UConn outlasts Saint Joseph’s in 89-81 OT win

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - 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 hold-over 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 on 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.”

DeAndre Daniels scored 18 while freshman center Amida Brimah forced overtime by completing a three-point play in the final minute.

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.

Langston Galloway scored 25 points for Saint Joseph’s (24-10). The Hawks wore down because of a lack of depth, and then lost their top forward Halil Kanacevic, who fouled out early into overtime.

“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 six 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 and after Hawks guard Chris Wilson hit two free throws to put Saint Joe’s up 70-67 with 49.2 seconds left.

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