Scotty Rausenberger/ALOST

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

NEW YORK — Somehow, Connecticut, the defending national champions, came into tonight’s contest with another title on the line with an attitude of unfinished business. Somehow, the seven six games that it already won this season at the World’s Most Famous Arena paled in comparison to what faced them in their final Big East game of the season.

Unsurprisingly, the University of Connecticut men’s basketball team did what it had done many times before inside Madison Square Garden during its first run in the Big East: dominate.

Donovan Clingan had 22 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, leading the top-seeded Huskies to a 73-57 victory over No. 3 Marquette to win the Big East Tournament for the first time since 2011. Tristen Newton, the tournament’s most outstanding player, had 13 points and 10 assists as Connecticut tied Georgetown for the all-time record with eight Big East Tournament titles.

The reigning national champions don’t need to go too far to find motivation to stay on top of the college basketball mountain, but last year’s run through the NCAA Tournament began after a hard-fought semifinal loss to the Golden Eagles, who had won the regular-season title and eventually went on to win the tournament one day after beating the Huskies. Now the core of Newton, Clingan and Alex Karaban, all members of last year’s squad, can finally add the hardware that was missing from last season’s mantel.

“It was very important [to win the Big East Tournament]. We got the national championship last year, but we were missing two trophies that we wanted last year,” Newton said. “We wanted the regular season and we wanted the tournament championship. Just to bring it back to Storrs, it feels great. That’s where it belongs.”

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Thursday’s event, with all photos taken by ALOST staff photographer Scotty Rausenberger. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 18 pictures in total.

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Tags : Big East ConferenceCollege BasketballConnecticut HuskiesMarquette Golden Eagles

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