Nov. 21, 2013
NEW YORK - University of Connecticut junior guard Ryan Boatright (Aurora, Ill.) made two big free throws with 7.9 seconds to play and blocked a three-point attempt at the buzzer as the No. 18-ranked Huskies men's basketball team beat Boston College 72-70 on Thursday night in the semifinals of the 2K Sports Classic Benefiting Wounded Warrior Project at Madison Square Garden.
The Huskies now play in the championship game of the event on Friday against Indiana, who defeated Washington in the other semifinal on Thursday night. That game will be televised by ESPN2 and heard on the UConn IMG Sports Radio Network. UConn improves to 5-0 on the season while the Eagles fall to 1-4.
Connecticut and Boston College had played plenty of times since their first meeting in 1918 -- but not since 2005 when both were in the Big East. Eight years and two different conferences later, they had one of the best games of their 90 meetings.
"That was like an old BC-UConn rivalry," said Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie, who played in a few of those games when he was a guard with the Huskies. "Coming down to the last possession like that. We gutted out a win."
UConn junior forward DeAndre Daniels (Los Angeles, Calif.) had 23 points to lead the Huskies while senior guard Shabazz Napier (Roxbury, Mass.) had 20 points, which led most of the way. He made his first seven free throws but missed the second of two with 30 seconds left, leaving the Huskies ahead 69-67.
Olivier Hanlan of Boston College missed a drive and the six-foot Boatwright was fouled grabbing the rebound. He made two free throws with 7.9 seconds remaining to make it 71-67.
Hanlan felt he should have made the shot, which sat on the rim for a split second before falling off.
"They were pretty aggressive the whole game. It was an open look," he said.
Hanlan, who finished with 19 points, hit a three with three seconds left to make it a one-point game.
Napier made one of two free throws with 2.3 seconds to go, and the Eagles' chance to win ended when Boatwright blocked Lonnie Jackson's three-point attempt a few feet inside midcourt.
"Ryan's block was a phenomenal play," Ollie said. "He was able to use his athleticism to jump up. The kid didn't have time for a pump fake."
Boatwright had two blocks in the game, one more than his previous career high.
"He did a lot of things for us tonight," Ollie said. "He had a great floor game. I know he wanted to score a little more, but the game is going to dictate that and when that does you have to play for your teammates. He can explode at any time and I know he'll be ready for tomorrow and we'll play better offense than we did tonight."
The Huskies shot 39 percent from the field, just 32 percent in the second half (8 of 25).
"We weren't knocking down our shots. We only had seven assists," Napier said. "But we weren't able to knock down the easy shots and it made it difficult for us to break out."
Boston College coach Steve Donahue was proud of his team for hanging around.
"We held them to 32 percent in the second half and outrebounded for the game (33-32) and we did a lot of good things and that's frustrating," he said.
Both teams had impressive games at the free throw line. The Huskies were 25 of 29, with Napier going 8 for 10. Ryan Anderson, who had 22 points, was 11 of 11 as the Eagles finished 24 of 25 from the line.
Boston College spread the court against the taller Huskies and went 8 of 25 on three-pointers. The Huskies were 3 of 14 from beyond the arc but committed just three turnovers.
"I tell our guys if we are under 10 turnovers, the coaches have to run sprints," Ollie said with a smile. "I guess we owe them seven when we get back."
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