Fans storm court in Connecticut as Huskies win
STORRS, CONN. (AP) - Thousands of Connecticut students stormed the court at Gampel Pavilion on Monday night as if the Huskies had just won the national championship at home.
More than 8,000 fans, mostly students, nearly filled UConn’s home arena to watch the game on the scoreboards and three large screens set up on the floor.
They erupted every time the Huskies scored. The sound became deafening when Jeremy Lamb made a 3-pointer to put UConn ahead in the second half. And with about 30 seconds left and the game no longer in doubt, they began pouring onto the arena floor to celebrate UConn’s third national championship, and first since 2004.
“Oh my God! Oh my God!” screamed UConn women’s basketball star Maya Moore, as she put her hands on her head while watching her fellow students bounce up and down at midcourt.
The students then streamed out of the arena onto Stadium and Hillside Roads for a street party that lasted into the early morning.
“We became Huskies for this reason,” said Kaitlyn Herman, a sophomore from Boston. “To just feel this school spirit, to all be here together, just cheering on this one team and just to celebrate together. It’s what we stand for.”
The students began filling Gampel Pavilion two hours before game time, chanting “Kemba Walker!” and “U!-C!-O!-N!-N! UConn! UConn! UConn!”
Sophomore Ryan King, 19, of Berwyn, Pa., came with his body painted blue and a big white “M” on his chest _ part of a group spelling out the name “KEMBA.”
“It’s magical, man,” he said. “The student body coming together, not many people get to see a Final Four while they’re here.”
The celebrations led to some minor property damage in Storrs: A couch was set on fire and a car was overturned at an apartment complex off campus. A crowd of several dozen had gathered, and some threw bottles at police officers, who used dogs to disband the crowd.
Some were arrested, but it’s not clear how many people were taken into custody nor what they were charged with.
On campus, one car was flipped over and a couple of fires were started in trash bins. Twelve people were arrested, five of them students. Most of the charges involve vandalism and criminal mischief, UConn police Maj. Ronald Blicher said early Tuesday.
“There have been sporadic fires, either dumpster or couch” Blicher said. “Not an awful lot though. For the most part the celebrations have been in good nature.”
In 2004, the last time the UConn men won a championship, 35 people were arrested after rowdy fans started fires and overturned some cars on and off campus.
University president Philip Austin and Police Chief Robert Hudd sent an email to students Monday asking them to behave after the national title game.