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Huskies finish best ever season
with 77-74 win over Blue Devils
(March 30, 1999)
t was nail-biting time. It was breath-catching time. Then, it was over. Gampel Pavilion exploded in an ear-splitting roar.
It was amazing. UConn 77, Duke 74. National Champions. Head coach Jim Calhoun leaped about the court and finally found Dave Leitao, associate head coach, to hug. At Gampel Pavilion, everybody found somebody to hug. To chest bump, a practice the Huskies hoopsters had perfected as they drove through their 34-2 season. To high five. To scream at.
More than an hour after the game ended, cars continued to pour into Storrs, with blaring horns, their occupants yelling their excitement from open windows. At the former Dow Field, the flames at the University-sponsored rally roared 40, 50, 60 feet into the air.
Unbelievable. They did it. Our team are the champions. They confounded many of the pundits. And the ghosts have been vanquished. Christian Leitner? Gone. Duke kicking UConn out of the Final Four? Gone. Duke knocking us out of the Great Eight? Gone. The shoe is on the other foot. WE WIN. UConn parties, Duke goes home.
The students, thousands of them, basked in the glow of victory, as the glow of the bonfire brightened their faces, and the glow of water on blacktop profiled those who stood near. Queens We Are the Champions, made famous more by its use in athletic endeavors than it ever was as a song, blared over the loud speakers of the Pavilion and of DJ Doug, who set up at the edge of Gampel Plaza.
The Huskies made it. They are truly Number 1. They are the champions.