March 24, 2006
WASHINGTON (AP) -
Despite a season-high 26 turnovers and 10-point second-half deficit, Connecticut rallied to force overtime on Rashad Anderson's 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds left in regulation.
Then the Huskies of the Big East held off the foul-depleted Huskies of the Pac-10 in the extra period for a 98-92 victory Friday night and a place in the NCAA's round of eight.
Marcus Williams, who got an earful from coach Jim Calhoun during a careless stretch in the first half, recovered to score a career-high 26 points as Connecticut advanced to regional finals for the sixth time in 12 years. UConn (30-3) will play for a spot in the Final Four on Sunday against 11th-seeded George Mason.
Calhoun called Anderson's 3-pointer at end of regulation "miraculous" and "one of the best shots we've had in a very long time."
"Of 1,100 basketball games I've been fortunate to be involved with, I've never been involved in anything like that," Calhoun said.
Connecticut did its best to give the game away, even after it appeared the game was sewn up in overtime. Rudy Gay, taking the ball out of bounds with UConn leading by two with 16 seconds remaining, committed the 26th turnover when his inbounds was intercepted by Ryan Appleby.
But Appleby passed to Joel Smith, who threw the ball right back to UConn. Williams picked off the pass, was fouled, and then made both free throws with 11.3 seconds to play.
Senior Jamaal Williams came off the bench to score a career-high 27 points, including the first 3-pointer of his college career, to lead fifth-seeded Washington (26-7). The Huskies from the Pac-10 failed to hold a 10-point lead with 15 minutes to play and began to run out of players down the stretch: Two fouled out in regulation, and three more in overtime.
The tight finish evoked memories of 1998, when Connecticut beat Washington by one point on a buzzer-beating shot by Richard Hamilton in the same round of the tournament.
Connecticut has yet to hit stride in the tournament. UConn had to rally from 12 points down to beat 16th-seeded Albany in the first round and struggled to hold off Kentucky in the second round.
Calhoun warned on Thursday that his Huskies were "a team of lapses," and was he ever prophetic. UConn committed nine turnovers during a miserable 5 1/2-minute spell at the start of the second half, but Washington was unable to take full advantage.
"In regulation, we probably made some of the most boneheaded plays we've made all season," Marcus Williams said.
Anderson rescued Connecticut with his 3-point shooting. He made two in the final 35 seconds and finished with 19 points, making 5 of 10 3-pointers. Josh Boone added 13 points and 11 rebounds for Connecticut, which had only a 42-38 rebounding advantage over a much smaller opponent. Gay scored 11 of his 12 in the second half.
Brandon Roy scored 20 points for Washington. The Pac-10 player of the year missed vital time in the second half after he and Gay went chest-to-chest and received double technicals. Roy also got a personal foul on the play, giving him four fouls and forcing him to the bench for several minutes.
Connecticut had nearly as many turnovers (26) as made field goals (27). Williams had seven and Gay had six. Many were just careless. Anderson made a lazy effort for a ball that bounced his way early in the second half, and Hilton Armstrong committed one shortly afterward with a clumsy dribble into the paint.
Calhoun grew livid, drawing a technical after a long discourse aimed at official Patrick Adams following the 10th turnover. Calhoun continued to give Adams an earful and teetered on the verge of getting ejected. Washington's lead was 45-40 at the break.
Washington slowly built a 53-43 lead as UConn played more turnover-ball in the second half, but Roy's fourth foul changed the momentum and Connecticut soon tied the game at 55 with 12 minutes to go.
Jamaal Williams' 3-pointer with the shot clock running down gave Washington a 78-72 lead with 1:53 remaining. But Anderson wouldn't let up. He hit a 3-pointer with 34 seconds left to cut the lead to two. Marcus Williams' three-point play made it a one-point game with 11 seconds to play. After Roy was fouled and made two free throws with 7.9 seconds remaining, Anderson launched the game-tying shot from the right wing.
In overtime, Armstrong blocked Roy's layup and scored on a floater at the other end to give UConn a 90-87 lead with 1:13 to play. Jamaal Williams' hook cut the lead to one with 51 seconds left, but Marcus Williams answered with a driving layup with 42 seconds to go.