Donovan Clingan powers No. 1 UConn to rout of Northwestern

League: NCAA Basketball

Posted on: 25 Mar, 2024 at 05:14 AM

Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK -- Donovan Clingan finished two blocks shy of a triple-double Sunday night as defending national champion and top-seeded UConn posted another wire-to-wire win by beating ninth-seeded Northwestern 75-58 in an East Regional second-round game at Barclays Center.

UConn (33-3), the nation's top-ranked team, will face No. 5 San Diego State in the Sweet 16 Thursday night in Boston. San Diego State routed No. 13 Yale later Sunday. UConn has won nine straight games, the longest active streak in the country.

Northwestern (22-12) lost in the second round for the third time in as many NCAA Tournament trips -- all since 2017 under 11th-year head coach Chris Collins.

Clingan had 14 points, 14 rebounds and eight blocks, while Tristen Newton added 20 points and 10 assists for UConn, which has won eight straight NCAA Tournament games by double figures. The Huskies haven't trailed in either of their postseason victories this season after romping past 16th-seeded Stetson 91-59 on Friday.

Cam Spencer added 11 points for UConn, which was just 3 of 22 (13.6 percent) from 3-point range but shot 81.3 percent (26 of 32) from inside the arc.

"We're obviously thrilled with the performance," said UConn coach Dan Hurley. "To get that separation while going 3-of-22 from three - a handful of those were contested, but obviously we didn't shoot it great. To still win by that margin, obviously, it spoke to our defense. ... One player had a 14, 14 and eight, point guard had a 20 and 10. It's tough to lose when you have that level of quality."

Brooks Barnhizer scored 18 points while Ryan Langborg had 13 for Northwestern, which shot just 37.3 percent (22-for-59), including 26.7 percent (4-for-15) from deep.

"If you want to win games and try to reach our ultimate goal, you've got to play the best defense you possibly can," said Clingan.

Clingan had 12 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks alone in the first half, as UConn scored the game's first seven points two days after opening with an 8-0 run against Stetson.

On Sunday, the Huskies went ahead by double digits for good at 15-4 with 13:47 left and led by as many as 23 before ending the half with a 40-18 lead despite going 2-for-11 from 3-point land and not hitting a 3-pointer until Spencer drained a pull-up with 3:04 remaining.

UConn took a 30-point lead at 57-27 with 13:27 left, when Newton fed Samson Johnson for an alley-oop, before Northwestern ended the game on a 31-18 run. Barnhizer had 16 points in the surge for the Wildcats, who got as close as 16 points four times.

"It wasn't our night tonight," said Collins. "But every team except for one is going to feel like us in the NCAA Tournament. That's what it's about. And unfortunately, for us, that night was tonight. We ran into a team that outplayed us, a better team."

--Jerry Beach, Field Level Media