6:55 PM ET, March 20, 2014
First Niagara Center, Buffalo, New York
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Turns out, Jim Calhoun left Connecticut in good hands.
With Calhoun watching from the stands, the Huskies continued their winning NCAA tournament tradition thanks to a holdover player in senior guard Shabazz Napier and a new coach, Kevin Ollie.
Napier shook off several misses -- including a 3-point attempt at the second-half buzzer -- to score nine of his 24 points in overtime in UConn's 89-81 win over Saint Joseph's in the second round of the tournament Thursday night. It came in Ollie's tournament debut behind the bench, two years after health issues forced Calhoun to step down, and a year after the Huskies were barred from postseason play because of academic sanctions.
"It was a great win," Ollie said. "Those players right there, that's what kept this university alive. They could have transferred. They could have done everything. ... They just stayed and they were resilient, and they played hard."
Napier, a freshman on Calhoun's 2011 national championship team, was among those who elected to stay and help usher in a new era.
"That's why I came to the University of Connecticut, to play in these tournaments, to give myself and my team a chance to hoist that trophy at the end of the day," Napier said. "We're here for one common goal."
UConn (27-8), the East Region's seventh seed, advances to play No. 2 seed Villanova on Saturday in a meeting of two former Big East rivals. Villanova advanced after a 73-53 win over Milwaukee.
"I definitely didn't want to go out like that," Kanacevic said. "I feel bad, but I tried to stay in the game with the guys. There's nothing you can do at that point."
The foul occurred with 3:47 left in overtime, when Kanacevic attempted to stop Daniels from driving the lane. Daniels still managed to hit the shot from 6 feet and then drained the free throw to put UConn ahead 73-70.
Napier then scored seven straight points -- five of them coming from the line -- to put the Huskies up 82-74 with 55 seconds remaining.
Kanacevic finished with 12 points and seven rebounds. Freshman DeAndre Bembry scored 16 points for a Hawks team that won the Atlantic 10 tournament title last weekend.
After hitting 13 of their first 20 baskets, the Hawks' offense cooled. Saint Joe's went 10-of-22 in the second half and finished the game going 27-of-54.
The game turned in the final minute of regulation, after Hawks guard Chris Wilson hit two free throws to put Saint Joe's up 70-67 with 49.2 seconds left.
Napier missed on a drive at the other end, but Brimah got the rebound to the left of the basket and was fouled while putting it back. He tied the game by hitting the free throw.
The Hawks never got a shot off on what became their final possession of regulation.
Galloway twice lost the ball on the dribble, but got it back both times, before launching a desperation shot that hit off the side of the backboard as the shot clock expired.
"We were right there," Galloway said. "I wanted to out with the ball in my hands. It's a tough play. I hit the side of the backboard. I'm upset with myself for not getting a better quality shot."
With 2.7 seconds left, the Huskies made two nifty passes to get the ball to Napier on the fly, who pulled up just before the 3-point line and had his shot hit off the rim.
"Just because I missed two shots, three shots doesn't mean I'm not going to take the next one with a lot of confidence," said Napier, who finished 7-of-22 from the field. "Today was a big dogfight, but we willed ourselves and just continued to push each other to get the win."
The Huskies were coming off a 71-61 loss to Louisville in the American Athletic Conference title game Saturday. They now have won 10 of their past three, with two of those losses coming against Louisville.
Connecticut athletic director Warde Manuel was pleased with the win and how his program persevered.
"It's a lot for us, given what we went through last year, and for Kevin and the team to battle the way it did," Manuel said. "I'm very proud of the effort."
NCAA Mens Tournament
Around Champ Week
Deciding factor: Saint Joseph's and UConn both had good looks at the end of regulation; neither converted. But the Huskies pulled away in OT.
Player of the game: Shabazz Napier. It wasn't the prettiest performance, but he got the job done and scored 24 as the Huskies moved on.
Key stat: UConn finished the game at the foul line. The Huskies went 18-for-20 from the stripe, not giving St. Joe's another chance in the second half.
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||27-54 (.500)||30-66 (.455)|
|3P Made-Attempted||7-21 (.333)||11-24 (.458)|
|FT Made-Attempted||20-27 (.741)||18-20 (.900)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||22 (0/0)||21 (0/0)|
|» Mar 20, 2014||@UCONN 89, JOES 81||Recap|
Connecticut outscored Saint Joseph's 21-9 in points off turnovers Thursday. The Huskies improved to 18-0 this season when scoring at least 16 points off turnovers.
Saint Joseph's built a five-point halftime lead by making nearly half of its attempts from outside the paint. The Hawks made 25% of such shots after halftime.[+]
Saint Joseph's Outside the Paint - Thursday
ESPN Stats & Information