NCAAB: No. 1 UConn patrols glass, controls San Diego St. to move to Elite Eight

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BOSTON — Cam Spencer scored a team-high 18 points and No. 1 UConn dominated the offensive glass to beat fifth-seeded San Diego State 82-52 on Thursday night in a meeting of East Region teams in the Sweet 16.

Spencer added five rebounds, three assists and three steals for the Huskies (34-3), who grabbed 21 offensive boards that led to 12 second-chance points.

Tristen Newton chipped in 17 points and seven rebounds, and Stephon Castle supplied 16 and 11, respectively, as UConn became the first defending champion to reach the Elite Eight since Florida did so in 2007.

The Huskies downed the Aztecs 76-59 in last year’s national championship game.

“Either better, or we’re worse,” San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher said of this year’s UConn team compared to last year’s. “They’re connected. They’re dangerous. We tried to hang in there. We didn’t play our best game, but that’s a credit to them.”

Jaedon LeDee paced San Diego State (26-11) with 18 points and eight rebounds. Micah Parrish had 10 points as the Aztecs’ only other scorer in double figures.

San Diego State was outshot 46.2 percent to 36.2 percent from the field.

Lamont Butler trimmed the Aztecs’ deficit to 42-33 with 18:48 left in the game, but that was the last time San Diego State would ever be within single digits.

Newton then dropped in a 3-pointer to spark a 9-2 burst, a rally that was capped with four points from Castle for a 51-35 cushion.

The Aztecs twice made it a 14-point game, but San Diego State’s season effectively came to an end when Castle sank two free throws with 4:30 remaining to widen the margin to 28 at 73-45.

Those foul shots capped a string of 11 unanswered points, further energizing a crowd that mostly consisted of Huskies fans. UConn’s campus is about 90 minutes from Boston, and it was easy to tell on Thursday.

“It means a lot, just to be able to travel with our fans,” Castle said. “They showed out for us, and it was definitely electric in here.”

Neither team could create any separation until Spencer took over. He accounted for nine points during a 14-4 run, lifting the Huskies to a 27-16 advantage with 10:55 left in the first half.

Elijah Saunders stopped the bleeding with a three-point play and Miles Byrd added a jumper to pull San Diego State within six.

After UConn pushed its lead back to double digits at 33-23, Parrish canned a 3-pointer and a jumper during an 8-2 Aztecs surge that made it 35-31 with 2:09 to go.

However, Spencer knocked down a trey with 21 seconds remaining, sending the Huskies into the break leading 40-31.

–Nick Galle, Field Level Media

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