UConn wins national championship, takes control in final stretch
BY SETH GRUEN Staff Reporter April 7, 2014 11:41PM
Connecticut players celebrate after their 60-54 victory over Kentucky in the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game Monday, April 7, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Updated: April 8, 2014 8:05AM
ARLINGTON, Texas —This time there was no opportunity for heroics from Kentucky’s Aaron Harrison.
Connecticut made sure of that when it took control in the final minutes of a 60-54 win over the Wildcats in the national championship Monday at AT&T Stadium.
With UConn up six and less than 2:30 left to play in the game, the Huskies twice grabbed offensive rebounds. On their third shot of that possession, an ensuing loose ball off a rebound went off a Kentucky player that resulted in UConn’s ball. The possession, which ended with 25 seconds left, ended with Lasan Kromah hitting two free-throws.
Kentucky swingman James Young, who coach John Calipari predicted would have a 25-point night scored four of Kentucky’s first six points. He finished the first half with a team-high 10 points. He finished the game with a team-high 20.
UConn led by as many as 15 in the first half, largely due to the play of its backcourt. Ryan Boatright, an Aurora native, and Shabazz Napier combined to scored 23 first-half points. Napier had 15, hitting six of his 11 first-half field goal attempts.
Kentucky closed the first half on a 16-5 run to bring the game to within 35-31 at the end of the first half.
After being held to only two points through the first 19 minutes of the game, Julius Randle scored back-to-back field goals in the final minute of the first half to cut, adding to the Kentucky run.
Much of Randle’s first half struggles could have been attributed to what looked to be cramps that flared up in the early stages of Monday’s game.
Boatright injured his ankle around the nine-minute mark and had it worked on in the huddle. He returned to action immediately.