Kevin Ollie, crouched into his usual coaching stance–more resembling a defensive stance than anything else, kept gleefully and frantically encouraging the Huskies from the sideline.
And UConn’s pressure defense bothered Kentucky all night.
It was a beautiful performance by the team from Storrs, and Connecticut finished off the night the way they’ve finished seemingly every game in the Tourney: confidently knocking down free throws. The Huskies finished the night a perfect 10-10 at the line, and won by a final of 60-54.
The UConn hoops brand has never been stronger. The title represents their fourth since 1999. That’s bananas. And coach Kevin Ollie, just a few short years removed from playing in the NBA, seems poised to lead UConn into a bright future.
For seniors Shabazz Napier and Niels Giffey, it was their second ‘ship. The two rode the Kemba Walker experience to the title back in ’11 as freshmen. And they stuck around last year when UConn was ineligible to play in the postseason due to APR violations.
In perhaps the defining moment of last night’s game, Napier and Giffey knocked in back-to-back threes to extend the lead to five points with just over six minutes left. The consecutive bombs broke Kentucky’s back, and the Wildcats never cut the deficit under four points the rest of the way.
It was an immensely enjoyable game to watch, filled with impressive plays (none more so than James Young’s crazy dunk) and momentum shifts. In the end, UConn played just a bit better than Coach Cal’s phenomenal freshmen.
And now, with the One Shining Moment behind us, we enter the off-season. Until November, college hoops will be missed.