NCAA Game Summary - Saint Joseph's vs. Connecticut|
(Thursday, March 20th)
Final Score: Connecticut 89, Saint Joseph's 81 (OT)
Buffalo, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Shabazz Napier sat in the locker room after
a first half he said went by too fast and knew he needed to pick his teammates
"At the end of the day," Napier said, "this may be my last game."
He made sure it wasn't.
Napier scored 19 of his 24 points after the first half -- including nine in
overtime -- and Connecticut rallied to beat Saint Joseph's 89-81 on Thursday
to stay alive in the NCAA Tournament.
Napier's teammates carried the load for 20 minutes until the American Athletic
Conference Player of the Year turned it on.
The senior guard missed a 3-pointer at the regulation buzzer but scored seven
in a row in overtime to give the Huskies (27-8) an eight-point lead with under
a minute to go.
Atlantic 10 champion Saint Joe's -- with senior big man Halil Kanacevic fouled
out -- was never closer than five after that.
The 10th-seeded Hawks led by 10 in the first half and were eyeing an upset of
the seventh-seeded Huskies in the program's first NCAA Tournament game in six
In the end, Napier escaped a fate 60 percent of the Saint Joe's starting
The first NCAA Tournament game for seniors Kanacevic, Langston Galloway and
Ronald Roberts Jr. was also their last.
When Galloway and Roberts checked out in the final seconds, Napier hugged them
"I didn't know them guys until today, but when you play basketball with that
competitiveness, you earn a lot of respect," said Napier. "I'm passionate for
the game, and I seen it in them guys' eyes. They're seniors, and this is it.
"I would have loved for them to do the same thing for me. When you work so
hard for something and it goes down the drain, it saddens me. But I'm happy
I'm on the other end. I just wanted to show them my respect and tell the guys
that he did a tremendous job.
"Just sometimes you fight, and you don't win the battle."
DeAndre Daniels added 18 points and Ryan Boatright scored 17 for the Huskies,
who advanced in the East Region and will face old Big East foe Villanova after
the second-seeded Wildcats beat Milwaukee 73-53 later Thursday.
Galloway had 25 points to lead Saint Joe's (24-10) and DeAndre Bembry scored
16. Kanacevic ended with 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists but fouled
out with 3:47 left in overtime.
"It will be a long night tonight, probably a long weekend. Then we'll get each
of these guys on their path to life," said Saint Joe's coach Phil Martelli.
"If it's the hardest thing they face," Martelli added, "they've lived a
UConn is back in the tournament after serving a one-year ban last year over
academics. The Huskies, who fell to Louisville in the AAC final on Sunday,
played their first tournament game since 1979 without Jim Calhoun as coach.
Calhoun, who led UConn to three national titles between 1999 and 2011, stepped
aside because of health problems prior to last season, allowing Kevin Ollie to
"At the end of the day, we wanted to outwork our opponent," Ollie said. "It
took a little longer than I thought, but fortunately, we got it done at the
The Hawks beat VCU on Sunday to win their first A-10 title since 1997 and made
the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008, when they lost in the first
round to Blake Griffin and Oklahoma.
It was the program's second appearance in the NCAAs since the 2003-04 season,
when the Hawks went 27-0 in the regular season, reached No. 1 in the AP poll
and fell to Oklahoma State in the Elite Eight.
A Hawks win could have set up a game against Big 5 rival Villanova. The
schools, separated by seven miles down U.S. Route 30, play an annual game
known as the Holy War. Villanova won this season's matchup by a record 30
The upset bid fell apart in the second half.
The Huskies cut a seven-point deficit to one after consecutive 3-pointers by
Niels Giffey and Napier and took their first lead since 16-15 on Napier's
three-point play to make it 57-55 with 8 1/2 minutes left in regulation.
Kanacevic scored six in a row to give the Hawks a five-point lead but UConn
later moved ahead again on a Daniels 3-pointer with 2:09 on the clock.
Then, the frantic final minutes.
Chris Wilson, the quietest Saint Joe's starter until that point, hit a floater
and two free throws after Napier dribbled out of bounds for a 70-67 Hawks lead
with 49.2 seconds remaining in regulation.
UConn tied it on Amida Brimah's three-point play with 39 ticks left. Galloway
then missed an off-balance shot off the backboard, giving UConn the ball back
with 2.7 seconds showing.
"I'm definitely upset with myself for not getting a better quality shot," said
Galloway, "because I know if I had gotten a better quality shot, I probably
would have made it."
The inbounds went to midcourt, then to Napier, whose running 3-point try
missed at the buzzer.
Giffey added 10 points for UConn while Roberts scored 15 for the Hawks and
Wilson ended with 13 points after a slow start, including five in overtime.
Galloway opened overtime with a 3-pointer and scored six in the extra frame.
Saint Joe's shot 56 percent in the first half and led by as many as 10 points
after Galloway -- changing his mind in mid-air behind the 3-point line --
found Bembry underneath for a layup to make it 37-27 with 3:16 to play.
UConn trimmed it to 40-35 at halftime on Boatright's 3-pointer from the left
corner in the final seconds.
UConn leads the all-time series 5-2. The teams hadn't played since Dec. 29,
1989, an 83-58 Huskies win. The last Saint Joe's win over UConn came in the
first round of the 1965 NCAA Tournament (67-61).
03/21 00:23:57 ET