I sat back and sipped my Pepsi Throwback as the lead in the NCAA Championships switched again and again every few minutes. The only excitement that came during the first half of the game between the Butler Bulldogs and the University of Connecticut Huskies was a last-second three point shot courtesy of guard Sheldon Mack of the Bulldogs. The crowd in Houston was woken just in time for half-time.
After a 22-19 first half with Butler on top, the game took a turn as UConn pulled ahead after Butler missed eleven shots in a row. Butler’s scoring drought was underscored by UConn guard/forward Jeremy Lamb, who broke free of the pack and threw down a one-handed dunk, putting the Huskies up, 31-26. Lamb, who scored at least 10 points in every game of the tournament, proceeded to score the next field goal, making his point total for the night 12.
That was the last nail in the coffin — Butler was never able to recover. Atrocious shot selection and field goal percentages were presented by both teams, though UConn emerged on top, 53-41.
UConn guard Kemba Walker, who averaged 23.5 points per game throughout the tournament, had 16 points and nine rebounds. Walker added some flair to an otherwise boring game with his theatrical lay-ups, most of which came in the second half.
Walker was not the deciding factor, though. UConn forward-center Alex Oriakhi, with a double-double consisting of 11 points and 10 rebounds, filled that role.
Mack, who scored 30 points for the Bulldogs against Pittsburgh in the semifinals, managed only 13 points. Forward Matt Howard was not there to pick up the slack, as he added only seven points.
In all actuality, the road to Houston was more interesting than Houston itself. The Huskies made it to Houston after defeating John Calipari’s prized Kentucky team by one point. Butler beat Virginia Commonwealth University, who somehow managed to beat No. 1 seed Kansas to make it to the Final Four.
Speaking of No. 1 seeds, this year was only the third year in history that no top seeds made the Final Four. It is also only the third time that a No. 8 seed, in this case Butler, has made the Championship Game. This was one roller coaster of a tournament.
Ondo is a member of
the class of 2014.