UConn defeated Saint Mary’s 70-55, securing their spot in the Sweet 16 for the first time in nine years. Adama Sanogo was a dominant force, scoring 24 points and going 11 for 16 from the floor. Jordan Hawkins also helped the Huskies pull away with three 3-pointers in the second half. Meanwhile, Saint Mary’s suffered a big loss when third-leading scorer Alex Ducas left with an apparent back injury and did not return. UConn’s defense was key in holding the Gaels to under 60 points for just the fourth time this season. UConn will now face Arkansas in the West Regional in Las Vegas on Thursday. The Huskies are 3-1 all-time against Arkansas.
UConn is headed to the Sweet 16 for the first time in nine years, after a convincing 70-55 win over Saint Mary’s. Adama Sanogo, who scored 24 points, had another powerful performance in the paint, going 11 for 16 from the floor and grabbing eight rebounds. Jordan Hawkins, scoreless until the second half, added three 3-pointers to help the Huskies pull away. UConn now advances to the West Regional in Las Vegas on Thursday to face eighth-seeded Arkansas, which just knocked off No. 1 seed Kansas.
The Huskies’ defense was a big factor in the win, holding the Gaels to under 60 points for just the fourth time this season. Aidan Mahaney and Logan Johnson each scored nine for Saint Mary’s, but third-leading scorer Alex Ducas left the game with an apparent back injury and did not return.
This loss marks the second straight season that Saint Mary’s has failed to get out of the first weekend of the tournament as a No. 5 seed. The Gaels have only reached the Sweet 16 once in program history, in 2010. Coach Randy Bennett, who has been with SMC for 22 seasons, and the Gaels have been Gonzaga’s closest rival in the West Coast Conference.
Meanwhile, UConn last played in the second weekend of the tournament in 2014, when they won the last of four national titles in a 15-year span. Their last title run came out of the American Athletic Conference, which was formed from the Big East’s football-basketball breakup in 2013. UConn went with the football schools and played seven years in the AAC, where its football program struggled, while their men’s basketball program slipped into irrelevance.
After returning to their Big East roots and rejoining the conference three seasons ago, UConn has been on the rise since hiring former Seton Hall point guard Dan Hurley as coach five years ago. However, Saint Mary’s suffered a big loss in their game against UConn, as third-leading scorer Alex Ducas left with an apparent back injury and did not return. Ducas, who scored 17 points in the Gaels’ first-round victory against VCU, was the team’s most accurate 3-point shooter. Meanwhile, UConn will face Arkansas next, a team they have a 3-1 all-time record against.
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