In a historic season that resulted in two mid-major programs in the Final Four, a blue blood comes out on top. The Connecticut Huskies are your national champions, beating San Diego State by a score of 76-59.
“We battled,” San Diego State head coach Brian Dutcher said. “We feel good about the things we did. Disappointed in the loss. There was a brotherhood in that locker room that will never be divided by a margin of victory.”
The Aztecs did give UConn its toughest test of the tournament, trailing by only two possessions with 5:05 to go. Throughout the tournament, UConn had been dominating teams, winning by an average of 20.6 points per game. No Huskie game had even been close in the second half.
It was the offensive struggles that got to SDSU on Monday evening, a common occurrence in this game.
During the first half, San Diego State went on a drought of 14 straight missed field goals, allowing the Huskies to stretch their lead out to double-digits in that time. In the final 5:05, San Diego State only made one field goal as Connecticut ran away with the title.
“To beat them, we had to make shots,” Matt Bradley said. “You had to have a really good game on the offensive end to beat those dudes.”
The struggles can be pointed to interior play as Nathan Mensah was held quiet, and UConn created open shots. It seemed as if nearly every one the Huskies put up were open while the Aztecs settled for contested shots. San Diego State finished the evening by shooting 32.2% from the field.
San Diego State became the first mid-major program to represent the brand in the national championship since Butler in 2011. The last Mid-Major program to win a national title was UNLV in 1990.
“The state of basketball is in good shape right now” Dutcher said. “You don’t have to have million dollars in NIL, and you don't have to get every player in the portal in order to be successful. You just have to have kids who are about the right things. That want to win beyond anything else and are willing to sacrifice to do that.”
The Aztecs were the first program in Mountain West history to make the Final Four.
Onto next season! Thanks for another great season of mid-major basketball.