• 37°

NCAA Tournament: UConn 65, Arizona 63

By Greg Beacham
Associated Press
ANAHEIM , Calif. ó With nine pressure-packed victories in 19 days, Connecticut has been on an exhausting sprint through the postseason for nearly three weeks now.
Turns out Kemba Walker and his Huskies arenít slowing down until they get to Houston.
Walker scored 20 points, freshman Jeremy Lamb added 19 and Connecticut earned its second Final Four berth in three years, beating Arizona 65-63 Saturday to win the West regional.
Derrick Williams and Jamelle Horne missed 3-pointers in the final seconds for Arizona, allowing the third-seeded Huskies (30-9) to hang on after Lamb, the Huskiesí fearless freshman, scored six key points down the stretch.
After missing the NCAA tournament entirely last year, coach Jim Calhounís tireless team is headed to UConnís fourth Final Four, punctuated by an ebullient celebration in a building packed with Arizona fans.
ěThis is no time to be tired,î Walker said. ěWeíre trying to get as far as possible. We want to win this whole thing.î
Williams had 20 points while battling foul trouble for the fifth-seeded Wildcats (30-8), who led with 6 minutes to play. After Lamb pushed the Huskies ahead and Walker hit a jumper with 1:13 left, Lamont Jones and Horne then hit late 3-pointers for Arizona, but the Wildcats couldnít convert two good looks in the final seconds.
ěThe second one, I thought it was definitely going in,î Lamb said. ěWhen he missed it, I looked at the clock and saw zero-zero, and I just went, ëWhooooo.í Itís the best feeling Iíve ever had.î
UConn also made the Final Four in 1999, 2004 and 2009 ó all three times out of the West. In sweet redemption for a program and a veteran coach tarred by scandals over the past year, the Huskies will face the winner of North Carolinaís East regional final against Kentucky next Saturday.
The Huskies are the last team standing from the Big Eastís 11 NCAA entrants. After going 9-9 in regular-season conference play, theyíve done more than even Calhoun might have expected just three weeks ago.
After the Wildcats missed their final two shots, Walker and Calhoun wrapped each other in a bear hug at center court after the buzzer as Emeka Okafor, Jake Voskuhl and other UConn alums celebrated on the court.
The two-time national champion coach has referred to his group as ěan old-fashioned team,î a praise of their work ethic and resilience. But they also showed remarkable poise down the stretch in a building firmly in favor of the Wildcats.
ěI definitely expected to play in the NCAA tournament and have a chance at the Final Four when I chose UConn,î Lamb said. ěI just didnít know it would happen this fast.î
A year after Arizonaís 25-year streak of NCAA tournament appearances ended, the Wildcats and second-year coach Sean Miller were one 3-pointer away from a return to the Final Four. Williams demolished Duke in the regional semifinals with a career-high 32 points, but three early fouls limited him to 7 minutes in the first half against UConn.
Jesse Perry scored 14 points for Arizona, which trailed 34-25 early in the second half before scoring nine straight points. The Wildcats reclaimed the lead with 141/2 minutes left on Williamsí layup, but UConn quickly scored seven consecutive points.
The Huskies led 50-41 until the Wildcats made a 12-2 run that included two rim-ripping dunks by Williams and the go-ahead slam by Perry with 7:17 left. With Honda Center rocking in Arizona red, Lamb smoothly put the Huskies ahead before following Alex Oriakhiís putback layup with a steal and a dunk with 3:08 left for a seven-point lead.
UConn just keeps rolling in what has shaped up as a magnificent season after last yearís disappointing NIT trip. The Huskies roared through the league tournament with an unprecedented display of endurance ó five wins in five days ó at Madison Square Garden.
ěI only feel tired after everything is over,î Walker said.

Comments

Comments closed.

Coronavirus

10% of Rowan residents receive first dose; eight COVID-19 deaths reported this week

News

North Carolina State Highway Patrol commander to retire

Education

UNC School of the Arts may go for online learning due to COVID-19 spread

Coronavirus

Greensboro site to administer 3,000 daily vaccine doses starting March 10

Nation/World

$1.9 billion relief bill closer to passage in House

Nation/World

Lady Gaga’s dogs recovered safely

Coronavirus

Advisers OK single-shot COVID-19 vaccine from J&J

Local

Post wins 18 N.C. Press Association Awards

Education

Cooper vetoes bill that would force K-12 schools to reopen

Local

Lanning named Spencer’s fire chief

Crime

Blotter: Feb. 26

Crime

Salisbury, Kannapolis men charged with soliciting sexual acts

News

Racial bias ‘deeply entrenched’ in report critical of Apex Police Department

Nation/World

US bombs facilities in Syria used by Iran-backed militia

Elections

City council again dismisses idea of adding new member, focus now on recommendation to delay elections

Business

‘Let’s make some money:’ Loosened restrictions praised by bar owners, baseball team

High School

Salisbury High bucks historical trend in dominant shutout of West Rowan

Enochville

Garage declared total loss after Enochville fire

Crime

Cooper, N.C. prison officials agree to release 3,500 inmates

Coronavirus

Two more COVID-19 deaths reported in Rowan, six for the week

Crime

Blotter: Man brandishes AR-15, runs over motorcycle at Rockwell-area gas station

Crime

Salisbury man charged with exploitation of minor

Crime

Road rage incident results in assault charges

Local

Dukeville lead testing results trickle in, more participation needed