UConn defeats Memphis for first ever American Athletic Conference Tournament title


Bryce Brimhall

Head coach Kevin Ollie nd the Huskies claimed their first ever AAC Tournament title.

The UConn Huskies took their “bubble” NCAA Tournament status into their own hands, as they defeated the Memphis Tigers in the American Athletic Conference Tournament final.

The 72-58 victory over Memphis gives head coach Kevin Ollie and the Huskies their first AAC Tournament title.

“They deserve this championship,” Ollie said. “We did a lot of things in the off-season to create this momentum and [we] just continue to pull each other together.”

Daniel Hamilton was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. The sophomore guard averaged 21 points and 11.3 rebounds in the three games at the Amway Center. Five Huskies finished with double-figures in scoring Sunday, including 13 apiece by Sterling Gibbs and Shonn Miller to lead the team.

Following their dramatic four-overtime victory over Cincinnati in the quarterfinals, UConn was able to keep the momentum rolling over the next two games. Despite Memphis giving a valiant effort to get back into the game, the Huskies showed their determination in delivering the victory.

“We just continued to build on that momentum from Cincinnati, to Temple, to Memphis; three great teams in our conference,” Hamilton said. “It all paid off in the end.”

UConn certainly took advantage of a poor shooting start by Memphis to build an early lead. The Tigers shot six of 26 (23 percent) in the first half and trailed by as many as 16 in the first 20 minutes.

Memphis used an early second half surge, and found themselves down by only four with under 12 minutes to go. UConn was able to flip the switch down the stretch though, and went on a 15-2 run over the next four minutes to seal the win.

“I haven’t won a conference championship yet in my tenure as a head coach,” Ollie said. “To win the first one with this group, with all the up and downs this season, it really makes it all worthwhile.”

The Huskies will now shift their focus to a first round NCAA Tournament game against the Colorado Buffaloes on Thursday, where they will be an eight seed. UConn will be making their 33rd NCAA Tournament appearance, and first since their National Championship run in 2014.

“I think we’re just playing our best basketball right now,” Ollie said. “We’re playing great defense, guys are stepping up and making shots…we’re just going to keep feeding off this.”

UConn will take on Colorado in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Thursday, March 17 at 1:30 p.m. EST.

Memphis finishes the season with a 19-15 record, and will possibly be playing in this years NIT Tournament.