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Connecticut wins NCAA title, 60-54 over Kentucky

AP/MCT Published: April 8, 2014

Coach Kevin Ollie walked to the Connecticut fans’ corner, raised his hands, stretched his fingers and hid his thumb.

Four, as in the number of national championships for the Huskies since 1999.

Connecticut brilliantly slowed the pace of the NCAA final down the stretch and in the process cooled off the hot Kentucky Wildcats 60-54 on Monday night.

“One word,” guard Ryan Boatright said. “Unbelievable.”

Connecticut played every late possession to near perfection, bleeding the clock and usually getting points.

The biggest one came fromBoatright, who splashed a 10-foot floater as the shot buzzer sounded, making it 56-50 with 4:09 remaining. Only minutes earlier, Boatright had gone to the bench with a slight ankle sprain, but he was determined to fight through.

The Wildcats answered with an Alex Poythress follow slam, but he missed a free throw that would have cut it to three, and after DeAndre Daniels scored inside for the Huskies, Kentucky never got the ball back with a chance to tie or take the lead.

The final two minutes passed and Kentucky Coach John Calipari decided not to put Connecticut at the line. This allowed the Huskies to burn the clock and keep the ball in the hands of senior point guard Shabazz Napier.

He did wonders with it.

Napier, voted the Final Four’s most outstanding player, was a maestro throughout the tournament, and especially on Monday. His 22 points led the way. He set the early tone with three-point shooting and controlled the action late.

When Kentucky’s James Young started an 8-0 run with an acrobatic slam for three-point play, it appeared the Wildcats were in a position to take its first lead.

But Napier banged in a three-pointer.

“Dagger,” Calipari said.

Teammate Niels Giffey followed with a corner three, and at the moment it looked like Connecticut could pull it off. This from a team that lost to Louisville by 33 points late in the season.

But in the second year under Ollie, the former UConn player and hand-picked successor for three-time national champion Jim Calhoun, the Huskies were never deterred.

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