Denham Brown was swamped by his UConn teammates yesterday after hitting the game-winning shot against Gonzaga.
Huskies take Maui title
The much-hyped tourney was good to the last drop, which came with 1.1 seconds left on the clock
LAHAINA » Squeezing every last drop of drama from an action-filled week, the final game of the EA Sports Maui Invitational wasn't decided until Connecticut's team leader hit a shot over the tournament's top player.
UConn forward Denham Brown's jumper from the left side of the lane with 1.1 seconds left gave the third-ranked Huskies (4-0) a 65-63 win over No. 8 Gonzaga (3-1) last night at the Lahaina Civic Center.
"If you came here as a basketball fan, you certainly got your money's worth and then some," UConn coach Jim Calhoun said.
After Gonzaga's J.P. Batista tied the game with two free throws with 6.6 seconds left, the Huskies quickly worked the ball up the court and Brown dropped in the game-winner over Bulldogs forward Adam Morrison, the tournament's most valuable player.
"I was just trying to get it to the basket," Brown said. "I took a look at the clock at about halfcourt and it said 4.2, so I knew I had time to get to the basket."
Brown and Huskies center Hilton Anderson joined Morrison on the all-tournament team, along with Batista and Michigan State guard Maurice Ager.
The tournament featured five nationally ranked teams and form held throughout the week as UConn topped Arkansas, No. 9 Arizona and Gonzaga to win its first tournament title.
"All three of our games were incredibly hard-fought," Calhoun said. "It's a tremendous sense of accomplishment for right now. I want the kids to understand what is possible, but it's a long way from now to March."
The Huskies' bench proved pivotal to the win as Rashad Anderson led a balanced UConn attack with 14 points, while Jeff Adrien had 11 points.
Brown drew the defensive assignment on Morrison and had nine points. Forward Rudy Gay finished with 10 points. Anderson blocked five shots.
"Denham's leadership has been phenomenal and the play he makes at the end is a big-time play," Calhoun said.
Gonzaga reached the title game by winning a triple-overtime thriller over Michigan State the night before, but Morrison said fatigue didn't factor in the loss.
"If we're going to use that excuse we don't belong here," he said.
Batista had his way in the paint for much of the game and led all scorers with 19 points and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds.
Morrison capped his run on Maui with 18 points and five rebounds. He averaged 28.7 points in three games and set a tournament record with 43 points against Michigan State.
"The good thing about this loss is it's only November, it's early," he said.
The Huskies defense held Gonzaga to 36.8 percent shooting from the field and the Bulldogs went 4-for-13 from 3-point range after hitting 17 long-range shots over their first two games.
Gonzaga trailed 63-59 with 37.4 seconds left. Gonzaga's Derek Raivio then hit two free throws and the Bulldogs got a break when Gay missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 25.1 seconds remaining.
Batista was fouled under the basket with 6.6 seconds left and made both free throws to knot the game.
UConn got the ball into Brown's hands and he delivered the game-winner.
"He shot a right-handed hook from 8 feet over a 6-8 guy outstretched," Morrison said. "It's a hell of a shot.
"That's the beauty of this tournament. All tournament, players made big plays."
No. 12 Michigan State 74, No. 9 Arizona 71 (OT)
Tom Izzo's motto for his program is "Anybody, anyplace." But a taxing stay in the islands left the Spartans coach second-guessing himself.
Michigan State's pre-Maui stopover on Oahu resulted in a 22-point loss to Hawaii last Saturday. The Spartans then held off Chaminade on Monday and lost a triple-overtime heartbreaker to Gonzaga. They needed overtime again yesterday to beat the Wildcats, leaving them leg weary heading back to the mainland.
"Don't underestimate what they've been through the last five days," Izzo said after seeing his team blow a 17-point second-half lead before pulling out the win over Arizona (1-2).
"I keep saying coaches learn as players learn and there was stupidity in scheduling on this one. I don't mind scheduling great teams, but to play that extra game before (the tournament) was stupidity on my part."
Ager led MSU (2-2) with 20 points against the Wildcats, while Shannon Brown had 18 and hit a jumper with 33 seconds left to put the Spartans ahead for good.
No. 23 Maryland 75, Arkansas 62
The Terrapins (3-1) shot 61.5 percent from the field in the second half to pull away from the Razorbacks (2-2).
Terrapins center Ekene Ibekwe led Maryland with 16 points and guard Chris McCray added 15. Arkansas guard Ronnie Brewer led all scorers with 19 points.
Kansas 102, Chaminade 54
Sophomore forward C.J. Giles scored 21 points on 10-for-12 shooting as Kansas (2-2) opened up a commanding lead early and cruised to the win. Chaminade guard Dylan McCune hit five 3-point shots and finished with 17 for the Silverswords (0-3).