SAN ANTONIO, Tex. – The University of Connecticut kept their perfect championship game record intact by claiming their fourth NCAA national title on Monday with a 60-54 victory over the University of Kentucky.
Shabazz Napier scored 22 points for the Huskies who have won all four national championship games they have competed in. Their four titles have all come in the last 15 years, comprising 1999, 2004, 2011 and 2014.
The Huskies never trailed and survived a 19-5 Kentucky Wildcats run spanning the first and second half at the AT&T Center.
“We did it together. They won as a group and this was great,” said Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie.”
Monday’s win capped an improbable run through the US college basketball tournament by Connecticut, who are the first number seven seed to play in the final.
The Huskies opened the tournament by surviving a second-round clash with Saint Joseph’s, 89-81 in overtime. That was followed by a third-round upset of second-seeded Villanova, 77-65.
They next beat Iowa State, 81-76, and then the East Regional division final pitted the Huskies against Michigan State. Connecticut pulled off another surprise with a 60-54 victory. Next up was a final four bout with number one overall seed Florida which UConn won 63-53.
UConn now owns a 58-29 overall record in the NCAA tournament, spanning 31 appearances.
“This is what happens when you bend us, but we don’t break,” said Napier.
The 2014 national championship game comprised the two lowest seeded teams in NCAA tournament history.
Kentucky was seeking its ninth national title and second in three years. They beat Kansas 67-59 for the 2012 title.
The loss also snapped their 11-game NCAA tournament win streak.
“We had our chances to win,” said Kentucky coach John Calipari. “We hung in there. These kids never gave up. We just didn’t have enough. We missed the shots and free throws we needed to make.”
James Young had 20 points to lead Kentucky and leading scorer Julius Randle tallied 10 points. The Wildcats, who came out of the Midwest Region as a number eight seed, trailed 30-15 with six minutes left in the first half.
“The way we started the game probably cost us the game,” said Calipari.
“Someone asked why we started that way. Duh, they’re freshmen. They were terrified.”
Ryan Boatright added 14 points for the Huskies and Niels Giffey scored 10. Boatright stayed in the game despite twisting his right ankle in the second half. – Rappler.com