UConn students celebrate as men's hoops scores its 5th NCAA title
Celebration — and some chaos — filled the UConn Storrs campus Monday night into Tuesday morning as the men topped off a dominant run through March Madness, defeating San Diego State 76-59 in the national championship game.
The win marked UConn's fifth men's basketball national title.
"Crazy atmosphere, crazy environment. It was electric," said Chris Gee, 23, a senior pharmaceutical sciences major from New Haven. "I couldn't believe it. Amazing. I've never been to anything like that before."
Cheerleaders performed in the Gampel Pavilion arena before and throughout game. UConn's mascot was also on hand, striding through crowd and on the court — and posing for selfies and photos with fans.
"It feels surreal. It's an unreal moment. I couldn't be happier to be a Husky," said Nick Faggio, a 21-year-old junior from Madison who's majoring in English. "It's simple. I'm speechless, honestly. I love everything about this place."
UConn had its way with San Diego State in a dominating first half, threatening to turn the national championship game into a monumental rout. The Huskies buckled briefly when the Aztecs inevitably turned up the intensity before finding their footing again, finishing off one of the most dominant runs in NCAA Tournament history.
Adama Sanogo had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Huskies, who became the fifth team since the bracket expanded in 1985 to win all six NCAA Tournament games by double digits on the way to a championship. UConn won the six games by an average of an even 20 points, only a fraction less than what North Carolina did in sweeping to the title in 2009.
Damage reported on Storrs campus
Social media posts showed students rushing the court in Gampel after the victory. The celebration soon made its way outside, where videos showed students causing damage to property on the Storrs campus.
"I watched the game [at home]. Once I heard all the commotion I came down here and I've been enamored with all of it," said Aiden Ghiroli, 20-year-old sophomore pre-med major from Guilford.
Social media posts showed students climbing and knocking over light poles. Several local TV stations also reported via social media that groups of students were causing other damage to the campus — including breaking windows and stealing signs.
"It's a little crazy," said 21-year-old senior political science major Lia Karr of the activity outside Gampel Pavilion. "But I think that just goes to show that UConn really is the basketball capital of the world, and, you know, many more of these celebrations to come."
UConn officials on Tuesday morningsaid that 15 people had been arrested and charged with various crimes related to the post-game vandalism.
Meanwhile, 16 people were transported to area hospitals, although none of their injuries were considered to be significant, officials said.
Team returns to Connecticut Tuesday
School officials said the team will return home to Storrs on Tuesday afternoon, when there will be a “Welcome Home” rally at Gampel Pavilion. Admission is free, but students and fans must claim tickets to the event.
The team will land at Bradley International Airport at about 3:30 p.m. with the team buses and an escort making their way to campus via the following route: Bradley Airport to I-91 South to I-291 East to I-84 East and Exit 68; then, Route 195 onto campus and Gampel Pavilion. The team is expected to arrive at the campus around 5 p.m.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.