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MENS BASKETBALL


Connecticut 76, Gonzaga 63

College Basketball(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

BY TIM BOOTH
Associated Press

SEATTLE - The final nonconference game of the regular season for the defending national champs was another example of why the Huskies could repeat, thumping the Bulldogs in a similar fashion to last season's Elite Eight.

Clingan controlled the middle. Spencer hit some key 3-pointers during UConn's big first half, and the Huskies built an 18-point lead in the second half and withstood every run by the Zags.

Clingan hit 8 of 11 shots and grabbed eight rebounds. Alex Karaban added 11 points for UConn (10-1), and Tristen Newton and Hassan Diarra both finished with nine.

Anton Watson led Gonzaga (8-3) with 20 points. Ryan Nembhard added 15, but the rest of Gonzaga's supporting cast struggled. Leading scorer Graham Ike finished with five points after averaging 14.2 points through the first 10 games. Key bench contributor Braden Huff, averaging 11.7 points, made just one free throw.

Gonzaga was also 2 of 12 on 3-pointers.

The Huskies beat Gonzaga 82-54 in the regional final in Las Vegas in March on their way to their championship and looked just as impressive this time around. UConn shot 63% in the first half and led by 11 at the break, then outscored Gonzaga 11-4 to start the second half to take a 56-38 lead.

Two free throws from Nolan Hickman with 4:04 left got Gonzaga within 68-58, but a dunk from Clingan and a layup off a turnover from Diarra gave the Huskies a 72-58 lead with 3:26 left and sent Gonzaga fans for the exits.

Gonzaga lost for the second time in three games – both in Seattle and both to teams nicknamed the Huskies. Gonzaga lost 78-73 at Washington last Saturday.

BIG PICTURE

UConn: The Huskies closed out a stretch with three of their last four games against teams ranked in the top 10 of the AP Top 25. UConn lost at Kansas, beat North Carolina and topped the Zags.

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs missed out on their last chance at a marquee win away from their home court until at least February. Gonzaga lost at Washington and still has road games at Kentucky and Saint Mary's in February and March, but so far its resume is lacking the big Top 25 nonconference win the Zags are known for.

December 15, 2023






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