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The joy ride is over: UConn holds off Aztecs, wins National Championship 76-59

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.

San Diego State v Connecticut Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Heading into Monday night, we knew the joy ride for the 2022-23 San Diego State Aztecs would end in Houston, Texas.

Though the Aztecs weren’t to cut down the nets at the end of the night, falling to the UConn Huskies — who captured the program’s fifth-ever National Title — 76-59.

San Diego State, who trailed by as much as 15 in the second half, cut it to five with over five minutes left. Jordan Hawkins’ spot-up triple, Keshad Johnson’s missed free-throw followed by a pair of Tristen Newton foul shots expanded the Huskies' advantage to double figures yet again with 3:41 left.

Despite the magical second-half comebacks against No. 1 seeded Alabama, No. 6 Creighton and No. 9 Florida Atlantic in the Final Four, the relentless, experienced Aztecs were not able to overcome another monstrous hurdle.

A pair of Adama Sanogo free throws — capping a 9-0 UConn run — was the nail in the coffin.

Keshad Johnson led the Aztecs with 14 points on 3-of-5 shooting. Darrion Trammell and Lamont Butler had 13 points apiece, both shooting 5-of-11 from the floor. Newton led UConn with 19 points and 10 boards on 5-of-11 shooting, while Sanogo recorded a double-double of his own, adding 17 points and 10 boards. Jordan Hawkins tallied 16 points on 5-of-11 shooting with a pair of triples.

San Diego State ultimately concludes its historic 2022-23 season 32-7, winners of 15 of their last 17 games and 19 of their last 22 — plus the most impressive, accomplished postseason run in Mountain West history, barring none.

After the demons the conference has faced over the last several years in the NCAA tournament — at one point, losing 11 straight games — for one of its programs to make the Elite 8, Final Four and National Championship for the first time in history was a remarkable accomplishment.

And nobody deserves more praise — except for maybe UConn because, you know, they’re champions — than Brian Dutcher and the entire San Diego State program, from top-to-bottom.

Unfruitful ending for the Aztecs, sure, but what a story and what a run that we can all tell future generations for years to come.

Aztec fans, don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.

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