UConn knocks off Purdue to repeat as national champion

By Thomson Reuters Apr 8, 2024 | 11:13 PM

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Tristen Newton scored 20 points and dished out seven assists as UConn won its second straight national championship, beating Purdue 75-60 on Monday night.

Stephon Castle added 15 points and Cam Spencer and Donovan Clingan contributed 11 apiece for the top-seeded Huskies (37-3), who found a way to limit the Boilermakers on offense outside of center Zach Edey.

Edey, the two-time National Player of the Year, scored 37 points on 15-of-25 shooting, but much of his scoring in the second half came with Purdue (34-5), another No. 1 seed, facing a sizable deficit.

UConn was quicker, more efficient from the field and tougher on defense compared to the Boilermakers, who stayed close until early in the second half, when the game started to get away from them.

The Huskies are the first team to secure back-to-back NCAA Tournament titles since Florida did so in 2006-07.

Edey missed his first three shots of the second half, and UConn went ahead by nine when Castle converted a putback for a 43-34 lead with 16:08 to play. A lob from Newton to Samson Johnson for a dunk gave the Huskies a 47-34 advantage.

Newton drove the lane and flipped a two-handed layup over the 7-foot-4 Edey, whom the Huskies successfully doubled-teamed in the paint in the second half. That basket gave UConn a 51-38 cushion with 12:06 to go.

The Huskies took control for good on an Alex Karaban 3-pointer with 9:53 remaining, and Hassan Diarra followed with a layup for a 56-40 lead. Purdue couldn’t recover, trailing by at least 13 the rest of the way.

Outside of Edey, the Boilermakers went 9-for-29 from the floor for the game. Braden Smith went for 12 points and eight assists for Purdue. Edey also hauled in 10 boards.

Edey energized Purdue for long stretches of the first half, making 7 of 12 shots in the period. In one sequence, he emphatically rejected two UConn attempts near the rim.

Edey was a force down low, even while going up against Clingan, who, despite being 7-foot-2, could only keep the 300-pound Edey from scoring when he was able to force the Boilermakers’ big man out of the interior.

But UConn made everyone else on Purdue miss their shots.

Smith hit a 3-pointer just before the shot clock expired with 2:18 to play in the first half, cutting the Huskies’ lead to 32-30. UConn scored the last four points of the half for a 36-30 lead.

The Huskies connected on 48.4 percent of their field-goal attempts for the game.

–Jose M. Romero, Field Level Media