UConn, Nova take another step towards title
Published 11:50 am Sunday, March 29, 2009
By By The Associated Press
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Connecticut is making another trip from the desert to the Final Four.
The wait goes on for Missouri.
Freshman Kemba Walker scored 23 points as the top-seeded Huskies held off Missouri 82-75 on Saturday to earn a trip to Detroit and extend the Big East’s dominance of the NCAA tournament.
UConn (31-4) won the West Regional and will play the Louisville-Michigan State winner.
The Huskies blew an early 11-point lead but survived against the frenetic third-seeded Tigers, who were denied their first Final Four berth.
UConn clinched the victory by going 10-for-10 from the line in the final 1:02. The Huskies are still in the hunt for their third national title — the first two went through regionals in Phoenix in 1999 and 2004.
When it ended, UConn coach Jim Calhoun made an exaggerated fist pump and the Huskies mobbed each other at center court. A.J. Price added 18 points for the Huskies.
Leo Lyons and Matt Lawrence each had 13 points for Missouri (31-7), which overcame an early 13-2 deficit but couldn’t match the muscular Huskies on the boards. UConn outrebounded Mizzou 47-32.
Dogged by reports alleging that they violated NCAA recruiting rules, the Huskies had vowed to keep their focus on the task of earning a trip to Detroit.
The first meeting between the schools featured a clash of styles. The Tigers, who had scored 102 points on Memphis on Thursday night, wanted to run. The Huskies tried to force a halfcourt game and take advantage of their superior size and strength.
Villanova 78, Pittsburgh 76
BOSTON — Scottie Reynolds made a half-court dash for the game-winning shot with 0.5 seconds left, leading Villanova over Pittsburgh and back to the Final Four for the first time since its shocking run to the 1985 championship.
Dwayne Anderson scored 17 for the third-seeded Wildcats, who responded to Pittsburgh’s physical play by sinking 22 of 23 free throws in the East Regional final.
Villanova (30-7) won the matchup of Big East rivals and advanced to play the winner of the South Regional championship between North Carolina and Oklahoma. The Wildcats are the lowest-remaining seed in the NCAA tournament, though not quite as big an underdog as the eighth-seeded ’85 team — those ’Cats upset Georgetown and became the lowest seed ever to win it all.
The first two teams to reach this year’s Final Four are from the Big East. Earlier, Connecticut won the West. On Sunday, Louisville will try to make it three from the conference when it plays Michigan State in the Midwest.
Sam Young scored 28 and DeJuan Blair had 20 points and 10 rebounds for Pittsburgh (31-5), the first No. 1 seed to lose.
Pitt’s Levance Fields hit two foul shots with 5.5 seconds left, tying it at 76. Villanova then threw an inbounds pass to midcourt, and Reynolds took a short pass and drove to the hoop. He lifted a short floater from the lane for the go-ahead basket.
The clock ticked down to zero, but a half-second was restored. Fields lofted a desperation try from three-quarters court and it was close, with the ball banging off the backboard as time expired.