— Junior Jerome Dyson
scored 21 points to lead the No. 2 ranked University of Connecticut men’s basketball team to a 76-57 win over No. 19 University of Wisconsin in the championship game of the 2008 Paradise Jam at the University of the Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center.
Junior Hasheem Thabeet was named the tournament Most Valuable Player after a dominating defensive performance over the three games. He was joined on the All-Tournament team by Dyson, UConn freshman Kemba Walker, Jack McClinton of Miami, Trevon Hughes of Wisconsin and Jeremy Wise of Southern Mississippi.
Joining Dyson in double figures for the Huskies in the contest was senior Jeff Adrien with 14 points and eight boards and Walker, who totaled 12 points and eight boards on the night.
UConn forced 22 Wisconsin turnovers, including three ten-second violations, and held a 31-14 advantage on points off turnovers.
The Huskies led by nine, 56-47, with less than nine to play when Dyson sliced to the bucket for a layup and was fouled. He missed the layup, but Thabeet was fouled on the rebound and went to the line for two shots. He made one of two and the lead was 12 points, 59-47, with 8:41 to play, the biggest of the game to that point. Wisconsin would get no closer than nine points the rest of the way.
Wisconsin had closed within two points in the early part of the second half, but UConn was able to restore the advantage back to seven with less than 11 minutes to play. Thabeet then made both ends of a one-and-one to make the score 52-43 with 10:38 to play. After a Badger bucket, Thabeet fed Gavin Edwards for a layup to make it 54-45. Wisconsin responded with a pair of free throws and Walker came back to the other end and made both ends of a one-and-one to make it 56-47 with less than nine minutes to go in the game.
The Badgers opened the second half with a 15-7 run over seven minutes to cut a ten-point deficit to two, 45-43, with less 13 minutes left to play in regulation. Jeff Adrien helped stem the tide, following a Walker miss and converting a conventional three-point play to get the Husky lead back to five, 48-43. The teams traded turnovers on the next several possessions, culminating in a Dyson steal and emphatic dunk with 11:52 to play to make it 50-43 and then the Huskies forced a ten-second violation on the ensuing Wisconsin trip.
The Huskies finished the first half on a 19-4 run to take a 38-28 advantage into the break. Wisconsin made its first five three-point attempts in the game and jumped out to a five-point advantage, the last of which was 24-19 with 8:21 to play in the first. UConn tied the score at 24-24 on a Thabeet follow of a Dyson missed free throw with 7:45 to go and then took its first lead since the 14:40 mark when A.J. Price hit a three from the wing on a pass from Dyson with 4:27 left in the half. UConn scored the final seven points of the half to open the double digit bulge, getting a three from Price on a nifty feed from Walker, a Dyson floater in the lane and an Austrie steal and layup all in the final 1:32 to make the count 38-28.
UConn returns to action on Saturday, November 30 with a 1:00 p.m. contest at the XL Center in Hartford against the Bulldogs of Bryant University. The game will be televised by WCTX-TV, MyTV9 and broadcast across the UConn Radio Network on WTIC-AM 1080.