HOUSTON (AP) – Kemba Walker scored 16 points and Connecticut beat Butler 53-41 on Monday night to give Jim Calhoun his third national championship, something only four other coaches have done.
The Huskies did it with defense holding the Bulldogs to a Final Four-record low 18.8 shooting percentage (12 for 64).
Connecticut capped one of college basketball’s best postseason runs, winning six games in the NCAA tournament after winning five games in as many days to win the Big East title.
It was the second straight year Butler lost in the championship game. Last year they were beaten 61-59 by Duke.
Walker didn’t match his 25.0 average in the tournament, but the Huskies didn’t need a lot of points playing defense as they did.
Calhoun, a Hall of Famer who has won the three titles in four Final Four appearances, joins John Wooden (10), Adolph Rupp (7), Mike Krzyzewski (4) and Bob Knight (3).
The 68-year-old Calhoun became the oldest coach to win a national championship. The oldest had been Phog Allen of Kansas who was 66 when the Jayhawks won in 1952.
Shelvin Mack, who led Butler with 13 points, hit a 3 with less than a second to play in the first half to give the Bulldogs a 22-19 lead and Chase Stigall hit a 3 just 22 seconds into the second half for a six-point lead — the biggest of the game by either team to that point. After that, it was all Huskies.
Butler had two long droughts in the second half as Connecticut built the lead to as many as 13 points.
The Bulldogs went 7:07 without a field goal — missing 13 shots — and the Huskies went from down 25-19 to taking a 33-26 lead.
The second Connecticut run saw the Bulldogs go 6:09 without a basket, and the Huskies took a 41-28 lead on a jumper with 7:32 to play. Butler missed nine shots in that span, and when Andrew Smith scored — he converted another one of the many misses — the crowd gave a sarcastic cheer.
At 22-19, it was the lowest scoring first half since 1946.
Butler was 6 for 27 from the field (22.2 percent), including 5 of 14 from 3-point range. The Huskies weren’t much better, shooting 29 percent (9 of 31), and they missed all five of their shots from behind the arc.
The scoring was extremely slow. The Bulldogs started 2 of 15 from the field, both baskets being 3-pointers in nine attempts.
The Huskies reached the championship game by beating fourth-seeded Kentucky 56-55, while Butler moved on with a 70-62 victory over Virginia Commonwealth, just the third No. 11 seed to reach the Final Four.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)