San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec




San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Men’s basketball season ends after loss to UConn in Sweet 16

The Aztecs were outrebounded against the Huskies in a game that quickly fell out of favor
San+Diego+State+forward+Jay+Pal+jumps+above+in+front+of+a+New+Mexico+defender+to+attempt+a+shot+in+the+paint+earlier+this+season+at+Thomas+%26+Mack+Center.+Pal+had+five+points+in+the+Sweet+16+loss+against+UConn+
Chinedu Nwoffiah
San Diego State forward Jay Pal jumps above in front of a New Mexico defender to attempt a shot in the paint earlier this season at Thomas & Mack Center. Pal had five points in the Sweet 16 loss against UConn

The anticipated rematch between No. 5 San Diego State and 1-seed UConn became another mismatch for the Aztecs as they fell, 82-52, on Thursday night. 

“We knew we had to make some shots, and we didn’t make enough shots,” said head coach Brian Dutcher. “They have an ability when they get ahead with the offense they run to really extend every possession and punish you, and that’s what they did.”

Forward Jaedon LeDee scored 15 of his 18 points in the first half for the Aztecs (26-11, 11-7 Mountain West). 

As for the Huskies (34-3, 18-2 Big East), guard Stephon Castle had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the defending NCAA champions. 

Guard Cam Spencer also scored 18 points and guard Tristen Newton added 17 points and seven rebounds. Center Donovan Clingan had eight points and eight rebounds, only playing 23 minutes after being in foul trouble.

UConn will now play No. 3 Illinois for a spot in the Final Four in Phoenix, Arizona. 

For the second straight year, the Aztecs ran into the Huskies —- who are now three wins away from becoming the first repeat team as NCAA champions since Florida in 2006 and 2007. 

UConn took a 10-point lead before the midway point of the first half in which both teams didn’t play to their expectations with 10 minutes into regulation. After extending a lead that reached 27-16 with 11 minutes left, and despite UConn shooting 6 for 28 to go into the half, they still held onto a nine-point lead going into halftime. 

In the opening minutes of the second half, the Huskies went up by double digits following a three-pointer from Newton to extend the lead to 45-33.  

UConn went on to score the next nine points with eight minutes and up by 17 to put the game away and cruise to advance to the Elite Eight. 

“They played a really good game tonight,” LeDee said. “I don’t think we played our best ball, like coach said. Kudos to them. They played really well tonight.”

After winning their fifth national championship, the Huskies followed blowout losses last weekend with their ninth straight double-digit March Madness win. They have won their games in this year’s tournament by 39, 17 and 30 points. 

Guard and senior Darrion Trammel spoke on his experience playing for the Scarlet and Black over the last two years. 

“The biggest thing was to make runs in March. I feel like we were successful in doing that. Obviously losing tonight isn’t what we wanted, but I’m blessed just to be in this position,” Trammell said. “Dutch gave me the opportunity to play on the biggest stage, (and) put me in a situation to be successful. That’s all I can ask for.”

The Aztecs finished the year with back-to-back years in the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history. 

“It’s not the ending we’re going to remember, it’s the journey because the journey is everything. We’ve been on an incredible journey together,” Dutcher said. “I take great joy here tonight with these three (Jay Pal, Trammell, and LeDee) guys sitting next to me. The fact that they’re 7-2 on college basketball’s biggest stage over the last two years —it’s something to take great pride in.”

 

About the Contributors
Roman Aguilar, '23 -24 Sports Editor
Roman Aguilar (he/him/his) is a second-year journalism major with an emphasis in public relations from Stockton, California. Since he was little, he loved watching sports and being able to tell a good story out of an exciting game matchup. He joined the Daily Aztec in 2022 as a contributor and staff writer for the sports section, covering a multitude of sports including football, men's basketball, and water polo, before moving on to sports editor. Aguilar is also a blog writer for KCR College Radio, attending concerts and having the opportunity to cover shows and interview artists. When he isn't writing articles related to music or sports, you can see Roman going to local concert shows on a near-weekly basis and watching his favorite horror movies.
Chinedu Nwoffiah, Photographer