UConn Claims 2nd Straight NCAA Title, Ends Purdue's Dream Season With 75-60 Win

Purdue's dream season ended just short of its goal Monday night, losing the NCAA Tournament championship game to Connecticut. Zach Edey scored 37 points in his final game with the Boilermakers.
Purdue Boilermakers center Zach Edey (15) reacts after scoring during the NCAA Men’s Basketball
Purdue Boilermakers center Zach Edey (15) reacts after scoring during the NCAA Men’s Basketball / Grace Hollars/IndyStar / USA TODAY

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Many people rolled their eyes at Connecticut coach Danny Hurley over the weekend when he arrogantly said that his Huskies ''make a hard tournament look easy.''

Sad, but true. Very true

Hurley's Huskies won their second straight NCAA Tournament on Monday night, ending Purdue's dream season with a 75-60 runaway win at State Farm Stadium. They've won all 12 tournament games by double digits in their two-year run.

And, just like Hurley said, they made it look easy.

This was just the ninth meeting of No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament final since the field expanded in 1985, and the brawl lived up to the hype in the first half. But that was it.

It was a tight early. Purdue only led for 1:36 but they hung around most of the time in the first period. Neither team led by more than three points through the first 15 minutes. UConn pushed the lead to seven at one point, and took a 36-30 lead into halftime.

Purdue was able to get a lot of good looks for Edey. He was 7-for-12 from the floor in the first half, and had 16 points. UConn stayed with single coverage most of time, and he was able to settle deep into the lane on most catches.

What the Boilermakers couldn't get were decent looks from three-point range. They went 10-for-25 in the Saturday semifinal win over N.C. State, but only took one long ball in the first 17-plus minutes. Braden Smith hit a three at the 2:18 mark to cut the lead to 32-30, but that was all they got from deep. Tristen Newton led UConn with 11 points in the first half.

Connecticut got to Purdue early in the second half when the Boilermakers just couldn't get anything going offensively.

Purdue missed nine of its first 12 shots in the second half, and Edey really struggled to get a clean look against Clingan. He made just one of his first five shots, and the Connecticut lead grew to 56-50 with 9:27 left, and Painter had to take a timeout. Connecticut's biggest lead was 18 and Purdue got no closer than 13 points.

The game was played before 74,423 fans, the third-largest crowd in NCAA Tournament history.

Purdue finished the season with a 34-5 record and the loss ended the brilliant career of Edey, a two-time national player of the year. He finished with 37 points and 10 rebounds. He had at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in seven straight tourney games, an NCAA record.

The Boilers struggled all night to get any production out of their guards. Sophomore point guard Braden Smith, who had only three points in Saturday's win, scored 12 on Monday, but Lance Jones had just five points and only took three shots and Fletcher Loyer didn't score at all, missing all five of his shot attempts.

Purdue shot just 1-for-7 from three-point range, and this was coming from the No. 1 three-point shooting team in the country coming into the tournament. They had made at least three three-pointers in every game this season and had made 317 threes before Monday.

The Boilermakers still are without a national title. This was their third trip to the Final Four, but they lost in the 1969 title game, and lost in the national semifinal in 1980.

Newton led UConn with 20 points. Freshman Stephon Castle had 15 and former Rutgers guard Cam Spencer had 11. Donovan Clingan, the 7-foot-2 center who battled with Edey all night, had 11 points as well.


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Tom Brew

TOM BREW