- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 26, 2006

The game lasted nearly three hours. It finally ended at 12:57 a.m. Saturday morning. There were 54 personal fouls, 16 3-pointers and 10 players who scored in double figures.

Connecticut won the best game of this season’s NCAA tournament, defeating Washington 98-92 in the regional semifinals at Verizon Center.

“I’ve been fortunate to be involved in 1,100 basketball games and I’ve never quite been involved with something like that,” Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said. “It was just an incredible game fought by two teams who gave it everything they possibly have.”

Here are the five moments that changed the game:

1. Three bad calls

The play: With 13:48 left and Washington leading 53-45, Brandon Roy was called for a debatable holding foul 25 feet from the basket — his third personal foul. Seconds later, Roy and Connecticut’s Rudy Gay jawed and both were assessed technical fouls.

Impact: Roy’s fourth foul sent him to the bench until the 6:42 mark. UConn outscored UW 19-15 during the stretch.

What they said: “The ref called a foul on me and I was looking up to ask him where the foul was at,” Roy said. “Rudy kept trying to play on me and he elbowed me in the stomach, so I walked over to him and said, ‘Hey man watch those late elbows.’ He kind of got upset and he said, ‘You need to get out of my face.’ I don’t feel like I said anything to get a technical.”

2. Unlikely 3-point shooter

The play: Leading 75-72 with 1:55 left, Washington senior forward Jamaal Williams hit his first career 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down.

Impact: Most assumed the 3 sealed the game for Washington. The lead was six points and UConn’s offense was in disarray — with two turnovers and a missed 3-pointer on the last three possessions.

What they said: “I told you I had something up my sleeve,” Williams said. “But what does it mean? We lost. I’d rather trade that in and score five points and get the win. The career high [27 points] doesn’t matter.”

3. Ill-advised foul

The play: Washington led 80-76 after two Justin Dentmon free throws. With 11 seconds left, Connecticut guard Marcus Williams was fouled by center Mike Jensen on a drive to the basket. Williams converted the three-point play.

Impact: It was the second-biggest play of regulation. If Jensen had given Williams the free layup, Washington would have still led by two points and Roy’s two free throws with 7.9 seconds left would have extended the lead to four, not three.

What they said: “We did not want to foul him,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. “We wanted to try and keep him in front of us. We were up four at that point and it felt like things were definitely going our way. It was a big play.”

4. Clutch 3-pointer

The play: Roy hit two free throws for an 82-79 Washington lead. At the other end of the floor, Connecticut’s Rashad Anderson ran from the baseline, took the hand-off pass from Marcus Williams and drilled a 3-pointer over Ryan Appleby’s outstretched arm with 1.8 seconds left to force overtime.

Impact: Down 11 points early in the second half and trailing six points with 1:55 left, Connecticut seized the momentum with its comeback and never trailed during overtime.

What they said: “I just knew that if Marcus got me the ball, I was going to knock it down and we weren’t going to lose the game no matter what,” Anderson said.

5. Wild sequence

The play: Washington’s Appleby hit a 3-pointer with 17 seconds left, cutting Connecticut’s lead to 94-92. Appleby then intercepted Gay’s in-bounds pass, thinks about driving to the basket but elects to bring it back outside. He passes to Joel Smith, whose cross-court pass for Roy is picked off by Marcus Williams. Get all that?

Impact: Washington had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead. Instead, Williams hit two free throws with 11 seconds left to seal the game.

What they said: “I saw that Appleby got the steal and he pulled it out as if they were trying to hit the dagger to put them up by a point,” Williams said. “I knew they were trying to find Roy and I glanced over to see where he was and just made a break over there.”

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