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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

San Diego Stuns UConn

The past few years have been the year’s of the Cinderella and the upset in the NCAA Tournament. Kansas and Duke, two storied programs have two first round exits under their belts now and a small school from nowhere in George Mason has made it to a final four usually reserved for powerhouses. One exception to the rule has been Jim Calhoun’s UConn Huskies. The 2004 champions are consistently one of the tournament’s toughest teams to beat and hardest to upset, something George Mason can attest to. The Huskies haven’t lost in the first round since 1979 and have never left this early in Calhoun’s tenure.
That being said, the standout upset of the 2008 Tournament’s first round is San Diego’s 70-69 defeat of the fourth seeded UConn Huskies. They did it in typical tournament fashion as well with a last second shot care of De’Jon Jackson to put the San Diego Toreros up for good.
“This feeling right now, I can’t even explain it,” Jackson said. “It’s like the best feeling I’ve had in my life.”
“De’Jon Jackson is a glue guy and winner,” said San Diego head coach Bill Grier in a post game interview with ESPN. “He does the little things that help us win games, that don’t necessarily show up in stats. I knew when the ball was in his hands he would make a play to win the game for us and he certainly stepped up and did that.”
It took more than a last second shot to beat the Huskies though. Brandon Johnson and Gyno Pomare played career games. Pomare led with 22 points. Johnson did a little of everything leading in steals and finishing with 17 points of his own in addition to five rebounds and four assists.
“I felt a big key to the game was how we came out in the opening minutes,” said head coach Bill Grier. “Whether or not we would come out aggressive. I thought our team did a good job of coming out and executing the game plan we put together and being an aggressive team. Being even on the glass at the half and being able to do things offensively that we talked about; it was a tremendous effort by them. We knew in the second half they would turn up the pressure and the heat. But this group has been very tough the past few months. We’ve won a lot of close games and they know how to win. Even with our two top scorers out of the line up this group found a way to get it done.
The Toreros also caught a break when UConn’s leading scorer, AJ Price, left early in the game with a knee injury. Still, the two teams needed overtime and a last second miracle shot to end the brawl.
“We just stuck together and stuck to the plan that coach drew up,” said Gyno Pomare. “We knew if we kept it close and we could finish it out. We’ve been doing that the last part of the year. We just really started playing hard and stuck to the plan and execute.”
“I believe our team right now is playing the best ball we ever had,” said Brandon Johnson. “We just have to believe and go out there with the same confidence we do every game and we have to step up and make shots.”

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