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March Madness recap

The+NCCA+hosted+their+yearly+tournaments+for+both+the+men+and+women.+Due+to+it+having+competitive+play+including+possible+upsets%2C+and+it+is+taking+place+mostly+in+March%2C+the+tournament+was+named+March+Madness.+Photo+courtesy+of+the+NCCA.
The NCCA hosted their yearly tournaments for both the men and women. Due to it having competitive play including possible upsets, and it is taking place mostly in March, the tournament was named March Madness. Photo courtesy of the NCCA.

As March gave way to April, the NCAA women’s and men’s basketball tournaments crowned the champions for their 2023-2024 seasons.  

For the women’s side, the undefeated South Carolina Gamecocks were crowned national women’s champions on April 7, after topping fellow top-seed rival Iowa Hawkeyes and nationally recognized star Senior Caitlin Clark 87-75.

To start the game, the Hawkeyes did well with their shooting, thanks in large part to Clark. She was able to score 18 points in the first quarter, which is a record for the most points scored by a single player in a quarter of a tournament game in NCAA history. However, despite Clark’s efforts, Iowa could not keep up with South Carolina’s excellent teamwork and lost the championship.

Team effort was the name of the game for South Carolina as four players were in double figures in terms of point production, with freshman Tessa Johnson leading the way with 19 points. Senior Kamilla Cardoso, who was named the tournament’s most outstanding player, dominated down low, scoring 15 points, and bringing down 17 rebounds. Junior Bree Hall and Sophomore Raven Johnson made it difficult for Iowa’s entire offense, particularly Clark, swiping some critical steals from her as the game progressed.

South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley found redemption after her team’s win against Iowa in the semifinal, following their loss to Iowa in the previous year. She rebuilt a young team this year after losing five players from the starting lineup, which made her emotional after the buzzer.

“It doesn’t always end like you want it to end, much like last year, but my freshies are at the top of my heart because they wanted this,” Staley said in a post-game interview with ESPN.

South Carolina will look to build on this year’s championship run with an excellent incoming freshman class, including the number two overall recruits.

As for Iowa, for the second year in a row, they have come up short in the championship game, and now Clark heads to the WNBA and will likely be according to experts, the #1 overall pick in the draft.

On the men’s side, University of Connecticut Huskies completed their bid to become the first back-to-back champions since the University of Florida Gators back in 2006-2007 by defeating the Purdue Boilermakers 75-60. At halftime, the Huskies were only leading by six points, but in the second half, they put up a remarkable defensive performance, holding Purdue to just 10 points in more than 10 minutes of play, which helped them gain a substantial lead.

The Huskies dominated all year, and the tournament was no different. Connecticut won all its games by over 10 points. Becoming the sixth team in NCAA history to win all six tournament games by double-digit margins. 

Although Purdue lost the 7’4” star center Zach Edey who led all scorers with 37 points while also grabbing 10 rebounds. Meanwhile, Senior Tristen Newton, a Burges High School graduate and cousin of NFL star Aaron Jones, led the Huskies with 20 points and was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.

“You can’t even wrap your mind around it because you just know how hard this tournament is; what a special group of people,” Huskies coach Dan Hurley said after the win.  

Hurley and UConn look forward to next season with a strong incoming freshman class, looking to become the first team to win three championships in a row since legendary Coach John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins did it in the ’60s. As for Purdue, they are going to find out what life is like without Zach Edey, who is headed to the NBA draft.

Jorge Guajardo is a staff reporter and can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Jorge Guajardo
Jorge Guajardo, Sports Editor
Jorge Ian Guajardo, is 30 years old and born and raised in El Paso. He is majoring in multimedia journalism and minoring in English rhetoric. He is the sports editor for The Prospector looking to lay the foundation for a long and successful career in journalism once he graduates.
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