UConn doesn't cry foul on OT-forcing trey

March, 11, 2011
3/11/11
11:11
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun does not believe in fouling at the end of games with his team in the lead and little time on the clock.

Thus, as Syracuse held the ball with about 14 seconds left and trailing 69-66, Calhoun let his defense try and make a stop. The strategy failed. Syracuse's Scoop Jardine hit a game-tying 3-point shot with six seconds left to send these two teams to yet another overtime battle in the Big East tournament.

"I believe if we switched everything, he could get a contested 3-point shot, 35 percent uncontested, around 20 percent uncontested," Calhoun said. "We didn't do a great job of getting the 3-pointer, and one more foul shot would have finished off the game, but those things happen."

The Orange managed to rally from a 68-62 deficit with 25.1 seconds left, but UConn outscored the Orange 8-3 in overtime to win 76-71.

The schools finished five overtimes shy of their classic from the 2009 Big East quarterfinals.

"I don't want to go into another sixth overtime," UConn point guard Kemba Walker said. "I was mad when it went into the first overtime, but I thought about the six-overtime game and I wanted to get the win in that first OT."

Connecticut led 68-65 with 14.9 seconds left when UConn freshman Shabazz Napier missed the front end of a one-and-one. The ball trickled out of bounds off a UConn player, giving the Orange possession. As Syracuse brought the ball up, UConn had a chance to foul; the Huskies had seven team fouls and fouling would've sent Syracuse to the line for a one-and-one, instead of allowing the Orange to attempt a game-tying 3-point shot.

With UConn firmly planted in its defense, Jardine used a screen to free himself from Napier, as UConn was playing in man-to-man defense, and pulled up and drained a 3-pointer from left-center behind the arc to tie the score. UConn turned the ball over and Syracuse couldn't manage a shot to end regulation and the teams headed to overtime.

"I was like, why did he hit that?" UConn forward Alex Oriakhi said. "I was frustrated and shocked and upset and I just wanted to win it in regulation. But he's a great player and he hit a great shot."

And now UConn is off to the Big East championship game for the first time since 2004.

"I wish we won in regulation, but it happens," Walker said. "We played tough. We stuck together."

Matt Ehalt

ESPN New York contributor

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