UCONN joins elite with fifth National Championship

THE University of Connecticut Huskies are the 2023 NCAAM National Champions after defeating the San Diego State Aztecs 76-59 in the final at NRG Stadium on Tuesday AEDT.

The Huskies claimed their fifth championship in NCAAM history, all of which have come in the last 25 years, making them the most successful team during this period. Coming into the match as the heavy favourites, UCONN overcame a hot start from the Aztecs to take control of the match in the first half and hold off any challenge presented.

UCONN forward Adama Sanogo capped off a terrific tournament with another telling performance in the big game. He poured in 17 points, 10 rebounds (five offensive) and one block on the biggest of stages, showcasing how towering of a figure he is. He was also named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player, thanks to numbers of 19.7 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game, by far the most damaging player on the best team.

Tristen Newton was also a damaging force as the Huskies overran the Aztecs, racking up a double-double of his own. He torched San Diego State in a telling first half display on his way to 19 points, 10 rebounds, four rebounds and two steals.

The Aztecs made four of their first five shots from the field, before missing their next 11 shots in a row as the Huskies broke away with suffocating defence and efficient transition offence. Despite some sloppy turnovers at the start of the game, UCONN hit its straps and went on a run as San Diego State’s offence came to a grinding halt.

The Huskies were able to build a lead as big as 16 points, and things became much trickier for the Aztecs, but San Diego State was not giving up without a fight. The lead was quickly whittled down to just five points, and it was game on.

The UCONN Huskies celebrate their fifth National Championship. Photo: Troy Taormina, USA TODAY Sports

Despite their best efforts, the Aztecs were bested in the second half by the opposition, as UCONN wiped away any chances of a miracle comeback. Jordan Hawkins (16 points, 5/9 FG) sparked the match-winning run with a big three-pointer, as the Huskies outscored the opposition 9-0 in the minutes that followed and put the nail in the coffin.

It capped off a dominant performance from the Huskies, who won their six games by an average of 20 points. UCONN was clearly the best side in the tournament, and it came to the forefront in the title game.

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