The 4-seed UConn Huskies fought through another nerve-wracking battle of a first half only to run away with it in the second, finishing with a 70-55 win at MVP Arena in Albany, New York. The Huskies advance to their first Sweet 16 since 2014, and 19th overall (one of those was vacated by the NCAA).
The first half started with Saint Mary’s on fire. The Gaels hit 70 percent of their shots in the first seven-and-a-half minutes as they played at a faster pace than usual and took their largest lead of the game, at eight. The Husky bench came in to make some stops and get UConn back in the game.
Adama Sanogo in the post was the only thing working for most of the first half for the Huskies offensively, but Tristen Newton came on strong late, hitting a 3-pointer to end the half with nine points and put the Huskies up 31-30 at the break.
Sanogo had 10 points at the half on his way to 24 on the night to go along with eight rebounds. Newton finished with 13 points.
The second half started with more of the same, with Sanogo continuing to excel and others starting to get involved. The Huskies pulled away with a 7-0 run, punctuated by some good defense and an Alex Karaban deep shot.
Then Jordan Hawkins woke up.
The sophomore sat the last eight minutes of the first half with two fouls, scoring no points in the first half for the second game in a row, albeit on one shot. He got his first outside shot on an open look eight-and-a-half minutes into the second half, and from there made three more, finishing with 12 points on the night as UConn put the game away.
Donovan Clingan also made his presence felt. The freshman finished with four points, five rebounds, and three blocks, and was an absolute force defensively, altering plenty of other shots.
Next up, the Huskies face 8-seed Arkansas, which took down 1-seed Kansas in its second-round game. The West region, which will take place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, is on a Thursday/Saturday schedule, with tip-off times to be determined.