The UConn Huskies defeated Saint Mary’s 70-55 to secure a spot in the Sweet 16 for the first time in nine years. Adama Sanogo scored 24 points, and Jordan Hawkins delivered three-pointers in the second half to help the Huskies pull away. UConn advanced to the West Regional in Las Vegas, where they will play against eighth-seeded Arkansas. Saint Mary’s, seeded No. 5, failed to get out of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive season. The team played the final 25 minutes without third-leading scorer Alex Ducas, who left with an apparent back injury. UConn has been on the rise since rejoining the Big East three seasons ago, after hiring former Seton Hall point guard Dan Hurley as coach five years ago.
UConn Defeats Saint Mary’s, Secures Spot in Sweet 16
On Sunday, the UConn Huskies beat Saint Mary’s 70-55, securing a spot in the Sweet 16 for the first time in nine years. The game, played at MVP Arena in Albany, New York, saw UConn’s Adama Sanogo score 24 points and Jordan Hawkins deliver three-pointers in the second half to help the Huskies pull away.
UConn (27-8), seeded No. 4, will advance to the West Regional in Las Vegas on Thursday, where they will play against eighth-seeded Arkansas, who upset No. 1 seed Kansas.
Sanogo’s performance against Saint Mary’s was both powerful and efficient, as the junior player dominated the big-man matchup with Mitchell Saxen, who scored only six points and grabbed three rebounds. Sanogo was 11 for 16 from the floor and grabbed eight rebounds.
Saint Mary’s, seeded No. 5, failed to get out of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive season. The team played the final 25 minutes without third-leading scorer Alex Ducas, who left with an apparent back injury. Aidan Mahaney and Logan Johnson each scored nine points for the Gaels.
The game was relatively even in the first half, with both teams shooting 44.4% from the field. Mahaney’s three-pointer with 21 seconds left put Saint Mary’s up 30-28, but UConn’s Newton responded with a three-pointer 18 seconds later that put the Huskies up 31-30 at half.
In the second half, UConn went on a 14-2 spurt highlighted by Hawkins’ three-pointer with 11:28 left, which put the Huskies up 51-40. Hawkins went on to make back-to-back threes to put UConn up 62-47 with 6:38 left, finishing with 12 points.
Meanwhile, UConn’s defense held Saint Mary’s under 60 points for only the fourth time this season.
Saint Mary’s has reached the Sweet 16 only once in program history, in 2010. The team, led by Coach Randy Bennett, has been Gonzaga’s closest rival in the West Coast Conference. They snagged No. 5 seeds each of the last two seasons, the best seeding for any team outside the six power conferences not named Gonzaga since 2014.
The Huskies last played in the second weekend of the tournament in 2014, when they won the last of their four national titles in a 15-year span. UConn’s last title run came out of the American Athletic Conference.
Saint Mary’s Suffers Injury to Third-Leading Scorer
Saint Mary’s suffered a big loss in their game against UConn when third-leading scorer Alex Ducas was helped off the court with a back injury. The team’s most accurate three-point shooter, Ducas scored 17 points in the Gaels’ first-round victory against VCU and had eight more when he went out. He did not play the rest of the game.
UConn: The Huskies are 3-1 all-time against Arkansas.
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