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Huskies Celebrate After UConn Beats Kentucky in NCAA Finals




(AP) Jubilant fans celebrating UConn's Monday night national basketball championship win smashed a window in an engineering building, broke street lights and overturned furniture inside the school's student union.

Campus police had made 30 arrests by 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, while state police had made others and more were expected, said University of Connecticut spokesman Tom Breen.

"A lot of it was alcohol-related," Breen said. "There was breech of peace, destruction of property, and we had a fireworks charge."

  AP Photo

 Connecticut's experienced backcourt made Kentucky's guards look like, well, freshmen in the national championship game.

Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright outplayed the Harrison twins from start to finish Monday night.

"Whatever you've got to do, you've got to do it," said Napier, who was named Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. "We've got a saying: `The only way we're going to leave this floor with a loss is in a box.'"

Napier, a senior who was a role player on UConn's last title team in 2011, had 22 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals in the Huskies' 60-54 victory. Junior Ryan Boatright added 14 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Together, they were simply too much for the Wildcats (29-11) to handle.

"They were not going to let us take this game from them," Kentucky coach John Calipari said.

Many thought it would be the other way around, with brothers Aaron and Andrew Harrison carrying the Wildcats to a second title in the last three years.

But the twins were mostly missing in the tournament finale at AT&T Stadium.

Aaron Harrison, who hit so many huge shots to get Kentucky to the title game, finished with seven points on 3-of-7 shooting. He also had three turnovers and no assists. Andrew Harrison was slightly better, scoring eight points to go along with five rebounds, five assists and four turnovers.

The play of the Harrisons contributed to Kentucky trailing most of the night, and Connecticut stepped up whenever the Wildcats made a charge.

"When you do have good guards that can control the game, it's hard for you to come back because they can hold the ball and wait till run 35 seconds off the clock then make a tough shot," Aaron Harrison said. "It's pretty hard for you to come back like that."

It wasn't the first time Napier and Boatright -outplayed the opposing backcourt. Not this year. Not in this NCAA tournament. Not even in the Final Four.

UConn's dynamic duo shut down Florida guards Scottie Wilbekin and Michael Frazier in the semifinals. Wilbekin, the Southeastern Conference player of the year, had four points on 2-of-9 shooting Saturday night. Wilbekin also finished with just one assist and three turnovers.

Frazier hit a 3-pointer off the opening tip, and then was shut out the rest of the way in UConn's 63-53 victory.

Napier and Boatright were equally disruptive against Kentucky's bigger backcourt.

They limited open looks from behind the 3-point line, prevented drives, picked off passes and challenged every shot. They have the speed, athleticism and instincts to do it all the time.

And their experience may have been the key to putting it all together.

Calipari showed them ultimate respect in the final minute by not fouling, saying "those guards never miss."

"They weren't going to miss a free throw," Calipari said. "We had three possessions left. We were OK, but we were going to have to score on every possession. Those were the dice I rolled."

The Huskies went 10 for 10 from the free-throw line.

Fittingly enough, they ended the night crowded around the stripe as player after player climbed up a ladder and cut down a strand of the nets.

Just before that familiar postseason scene, Napier took the microphone on the stage and slammed the NCAA while making it to clear to everyone within earshot that last year's exclusion from the tournament put a huge chip on their shoulders.

"You're looking at the hungry Huskies," he said. "That's what happens."

The Huskies (32-8) were ineligible because of the team's Academic Progress Report. Napier, Boatright and others could have left the program and played elsewhere, but they stayed and used the NCAA tournament ban as a rallying point all year. It really started to drive them in the tournament.

And they weren't going to let Kentucky's freshmen stop them from taking home the title.

"I came too far to lose right now," said Boatright, who played through a sprained ankle in the second half. "I worked too hard in all my life to be in this position, and I wasn't going to let an ankle sprain stop me."

Most of the property damage was minor, he said.

No serious injuries had been reported.

"By far, most of our students have conducted themselves safely and responsibly," UConn Police Chief Barbara O'Connor said.

More than 10,000 UConn students shook the stands inside Gampel Pavilion, erupted in cheers and stormed the arena floor as the Huskies beat Kentucky 60-54 in the NCAA title game, giving the program its fourth national championship, and second in four years.

"I'm just so happy to be a Husky right now," said Mike Butkus, a 21-year-old senior from Naugatuck. "So much pride. The last 20 years, you'd be hard-pressed to find a program more successful than us."

Students waited in line for up to four hours to get a seat inside the arena just to watch on three large movie screens as their team played 1,700 miles away in Arlington, Texas.

The arena was filled a half-hour after the doors opened, and hundreds more fans were turned away.

"It's my first year of college, you've got to go big," said Ryan Massicotte, an 18-year-old freshman from Naugatuck who was sporting a fuzzy Husky dog hat and sunglasses with the dog logo on each lens. "You've got to show it off the right way."

The students sang the national anthem, chanted "Let's go Huskies" before the tip, roared when the home team was introduced and booed the Kentucky players.

The stands shook every time Shabazz Napier made a 3-pointer. The pep band and school dance team entertained the crowd during timeouts.

They jumped up and down chanting "I believe that we will win" as their Huskies struggled through a second-half rally by Kentucky.

A few minutes later, as the final seconds ticked off the clock in Texas, they pushed their way on the floor, turning it into a giant mosh pit as their belief became a 60-54 reality.

After the victory the students went outside onto a plaza for a dance party in the rain. The school hired a disc jockey in an effort to keep crowds of students under control. As many danced, others were hanging from trees and light poles and throwing firecrackers.

At one point, a firework exploded just above the crowd.

Extra campus police and state police patrolled on and around campus and several fire companies were on standby with ambulances. Several people were helped from the arena by paramedics, apparently with alcohol-related issues.

Students said they expect the party to go on into the early morning hours.

"Hopefully I'll be able to go to class tomorrow, but I'm not certain," said Vincent Buffa, a 21-year-old senior from Tolland.

The team planned to return to Gampel for a pep rally at 5 p.m. Tuesday, followed by another viewing party - this one for the UConn women's team.

The undefeated women will be seeking a ninth national title when they play Notre Dame in Nashville.

"This energy is like something I've never felt in my entire life," Ricky O'Neill, a freshman from New York, said Monday night. "And we're going to do this all again tomorrow."


AP Photo

Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier (13) celebrates after winning the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game against Kentucky Monday, April 7, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)


AP Photo 
Kentucky fans burn a shirt at the intersection of Elizabeth and State Streets near campus in Lexington, Ky., after their team lost to UConn in the NCAA College Basketball championship game, Monday, April 7, 2014. (AP Photo/The Courier-Journal, James Crisp)
 


AP Photo
Connecticut State Police move students away from the student union area after they gathered to celebrate their team's 60-54 victory over Kentucky in the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game, Monday, April 7, 2014, in Storrs, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
 


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