Defense, balanced scoring lifts UConn in American title game
ORLANDO, Fla. — Shonn Miller and Sterling Gibbs scored 13 points each and Daniel Hamilton had a double-double for the third straight day, leading Connecticut to a 72-58 victory over Memphis in Sunday’s American Athletic Conference championship game.
Hamilton had 12 points and 11 rebounds. Rodney Purvis scored 12 points and reserve Omar Calhoun hit two crucial 3-pointers and finished with 10 points for UConn (24-10).
Memphis (19-15) trimmed a 16-point deficit to four before Gibbs’ long 3-pointer ignited a 15-2 run for UConn, which also made 14 of 16 free throws after halftime to wrap up its first conference tournament title since 2011.
The Huskies lost the American championship game each of the past two seasons, but when Memphis made a final push to get back in the game — pulling within 62-54 with 3 minutes left — Calhoun made a 3-pointer and Purvis followed with a layup in transition to ensure there wouldn’t be a third straight loss.
American rookie of the year Dedric Lawson led Memphis with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
The brackets come out for the NCAA Tournament on Sunday night, closing out one of the most unpredictable seasons in memory.
Schools all over the country are tuning into a two-hour selection show that’s revealing the 68 teams invited to the tournament.
The contenders include 32 teams who automatically qualify by winning their conference title, and 36 at-large bids awarded by a selection committee.
The whole field is keenly interested in the subjective seeding battle, with bracket placement a big deal toward the path to a title.
Bubble teams were very much sweating the outcome of the American Athletic conference tournament, where Memphis tried but failed to beat UConn and squeeze out another bubble team.
Yale opened up Payne Whitney Gymnasium to the public and set up a movie screen at center court for fans to watch the Bulldogs receive their first invitation to the NCAA Tournament since 1962.
The team, which clinched the Ivy League championship on the road at Columbia, also planned to cut down the nets before the pairings are announced.
Yale finished the regular season with a 22-6 overall record and was 13-1 in the Ivy, matching the best league record in school history.
The team is 7-1 since captain Jack Montague was expelled from school in February.
The Bulldogs last week apologized for wearing T-shirts in support of Montague during warmups of their Feb. 26 win over Harvard, a move that upset many on campus. The school has not said why Montague was expelled.