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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“Elite Eight: UConn 65, Arizona 63”

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Arizona Wildcats mens basketball team took on the Connecticut Huskies in the NCAA West Region Final on Saturday, March 26, 2011, in the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The Huskies advanced to the Final Four with a 65-63 win.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The Arizona Wildcats men’s basketball team took on the Connecticut Huskies in the NCAA West Region Final on Saturday, March 26, 2011, in the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The Huskies advanced to the Final Four with a 65-63 win.

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Once again, it came down to the final shot.

This time, there was no magic left for forward Derrick Williams and the Wildcats.

Williams missed a 3-pointer that would’ve given UA the one-point lead, and a second-chance attempt by Jamelle Horne went in and out as Arizona lost 65-63 to the UConn Huskies in the Elite Eight game in Anaheim, Calif.

“”There isn’t much to say,”” said Arizona forward Jesse Perry, who put in 14 points and seven rebounds. “”We came out, we played hard. We came down to the last seconds and we got the shots we wanted. Sometimes it turns out like that, that’s how the games goes.””

Williams led Arizona (30-8) with 20 points and five rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to stop Husky point guard Kemba Walker and freshman Jeremy Lamb. Walker scored 20 points and added seven assists, shooting 7-for-17 from the field in helping the Huskies advanced to the Final Four while Lamb added 19 for UConn.

UA guard Kyle Fogg started defensively on Walker, holding the All-American to 7-for-17 shooting for the game. Arizona head coach Sean Miller would take those numbers, but it was Walker’s seven assists that hurt.

That and the poise of the Huskies was the key to the victory for a young UConn team playing in a Wildcat-heavy Honda Center.

“”I think the second phase we wanted to do (well) was be really responsible on Jeremy Lamb,”” Miller said. “”From a scoring perspective he’s been that second guy. He made it look easy. The fact that he had 19 hurt us way worse than Kemba Walker scoring 20.””

Arizona opened up with a 9-1 start, but the Huskies led 32-25 at halftime behind 12 first half points from Walker.

The Wildcats got extra shots with offensive rebounding, grabbing 19 offensive boards for Arizona, outrebounding the Huskies for a total of 42-31. They shot 15 more times than the Huskies, but only made one more shot, a percentage of only 40 percent.

The biggest story was Williams, who picked up his second foul with 10:36 in the first half. Without their leading scorer, Arizona saw an eight-point lead evaporate into a two-point deficit. UA coach Sean Miller elected to bring Williams back in with six minutes to play, but on his first defensive possession, he was called for a reach-in that put him on the bench for the rest of the half.

“”Once Derrick’s out of the game … Certain lanes aren’t open, certain shots aren’t open,”” said forward Solomon Hill, who led Arizona with 10 rebounds. “”They got him out of the game and it messed our chemistry up.””

UConn’s Shabazz Napier hit a 3-pointer with 8:06 on the clock to bring the Huskies within one point, and 30 seconds later he picked the pocket of point guard Momo Jones for an easy lay-up that gave the Huskies their first lead of 19-18.

To open the second half, Perry scored on two lay-ups and a dunk to boost Arizona’s energy levels back in the positive A Fogg 3-pointer with 15:40 tied the game at 34 and the Wildcats regained it on a Williams basket a minute later, the end of a 13-2 run.

But the 37-36 advantage was short-lived as UConn against showed poise by responding with a 11-2 run over the next three minutes.

“”Their poise is amazing,”” Miller said. “”They called a bunch of great timeouts to kind of negate our crowd.””

With a 50-41 lead after Husky guard Shabazz Napier’s 3-pointer, Arizona ran off a 14-2 run, eight points of which came from Williams.

After Williams dunked with three Huskies defenders going for the block attempt, Arizona took the lead on a Perry dunk with 7:18 remaining.

Once again, the Huskies responded. They fell behind by three points briefly, 55-52, but went on a 10-0 run over the next 3:24.

Down six with under two minutes to play, a Fogg 3-pointer cut the lead in half. Walker drilled a jumper over Williams on the next plays to put UConn up by five, 65-60.

UA forward Jamelle Horne hit a 3-pointer with one minute left on the clock to bring Arizona within two points. The 65-63 lead remained after a failed scoring possession by UConn.

Williams attempt a 3-pointer that missed by inches on UA’s final possession, and an offensive rebound gave Horne another chance, but that also went awry.

“”We got two great looks, you know, I wouldn’t do it any differently,”” Williams said.

 

Notes

– Arizona’s 30 wins was the second most in school history. The last team to reach 30 wins was the 2004-05 Elite Eight team.

– Despite the proximity to Arizona, the Wildcats’ have lost all three of their Regional Finals played at the Honda Center.

– UConn is now 5-0 all time against Arizona.

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