— Senior A.J. Price
(Amityville, N.Y.) had 24 points and 10 assists and forced overtime with a three-pointer with eight seconds left in regulation. The No. 2 nationally-ranked University of Connecticut men’s basketball team defeated No. 8-ranked Gonzaga University by a score of 88-83 in overtime in the Battle in Seattle in front of crowd of 16,763 at Key Arena.
With the win, UConn improves to 10-0 on the season and Gonzaga falls to 8-2.
Price was joined in double figures by junior Jerome Dyson (Rockville, Md.) with 21 points and nine rebounds and junior Gavin Edwards (Gilbert, Ariz.), who had a career-day, scoring 14 points, grabbing 12 boards and blocking three shots. Gonzaga was led by Steven Gray’s 23 points.
The Huskies took a four-point lead in overtime after Dyson made a pair of free throws. UConn then forced a 35-second violation by the Bulldogs with just over two minutes to play. Dyson then buried a three with 1:31 to play, as the shot clock wound down, wide open in front of the UConn bench and the Huskies were up by seven, 84-77. The Zags would get no closer than four the rest of the way.
Gonzaga led 70-68 with 2:29 to play in the game. Daye made a tough bank shot over Hasheem Thabeet (Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania) with two minutes to go and get the Zags lead back to four. Jeff Adrien (Brookline, Mass.) was fouled going to the hoop on the next trip and made both and the deficit was again two. The Huskies forced an air-ball from Gray and went to the other end for a chance to tie, but the Huskies turned it over after Daye tipped the ball off Price out of bounds. Edwards then stole the inbounds pass right back and the Huskies again had a chance. This time, Price drove the lane and was fouled by Daye, his fifth foul, and Price went to the line for a pair with 33 seconds left.
Price missed the first but made the second and the score was 72-71 Gonzaga with 29.6 seconds left. UConn forced a Zags timeout and on the inbounds Adrien fouled Matt Bouldin, who went to the line for two with 24.7 seconds left. Bouldin calmly made both and the score was 74-71. Price then hit a three, his sixth of the game, with 8.5 seconds left with Pargo in his face to tie the score. Price and Thabeet teamed to strip Pargo as he raced into the lane the contest would go to overtime.
UConn cut an 11-point deficit to three over a four minute span. The lead was five after a pair of Heytvelt free throws, but Price buried his fifth three of the game to get UConn to within two, 63-61. After a Zags bucket, Edwards drew Heytvelt’s fourth foul on the next trip and made one of two to make it 65-62 with six minutes to go in the game. Daye followed with a tough fade-away over Adrien and then Adrien was called for an illegal screen at the offensive end. UConn got a stop and a rebound and Price fed Dyson for a driving layup and he was fouled. Dyson missed the freebie and the score was 67-64, Gonzaga with 4:45 to play. Price then fed Robinson for a layup with 3:30 to play and the Zags led, 67-66. At the other end, Pargo got away with a charge and fed Downs for a three that made the score 70-66, which is where it stood with 2:29 to play after Edwards got an offensive rebound, his 11th board of the game, and was fouled. After the media timeout, Edwards went to the line for two shots and made both to make the score 70-68.
Gonzaga took a double-digit advantage for the first time in the game with under 12 minutes to go, marking a 22-point swing over 13 and a half minutes of action. The Huskies had a response with a 7-2 spurt forcing a Zags timeout with the deficit six, 59-53, with 9:29 to play. Price hit a three and registered an assist in the mini run. The Huskies then got a pair of stops and Dyson was fouled and went to the line for the one-and-one with nine minutes to go. He made both and the score was 59-55. After a Gray layup, Price buried another three and the run was 12-4 and the Gonzaga lead was 61-58 with 7:24 to play.
Dyson injured his left knee with 15:44 to play in the second half and called timeout as he fell to the floor. Out of the timeout, Thabeet missed a four-footer and the Zags went to the other end and capitalized with a Gray layup, going ahead by a score of 49-44 with under 15 minutes left. Micah Downs then connected on a three and the Gonzaga lead was eight, 52-44, with 14:30 to go. After the teams traded turnovers and misses for several possessions, Heytvelt buried a three from the top of the key with 12:30 to play to make the lead nine, 55-46. Thabeet picked up his fourth foul on the next trip down the floor and went to the bench with 12:12 to go the contest. Gray and the Zags again capitalized, as he split the Huskies for a layup and Gonzaga capped a 10-2 run to make the Husky deficit 11 points, 57-46, with 11:34 to play.
The Huskies settled for a one-point advantage at halftime, 38-37, after leading by as many as 11 points on two different occasions during the stanza. UConn quieted the pro-Bulldog crowd in the early going, jumping out to a 13-2 advantage in the first four minutes and maintained a comfortable edge, 24-13, after a Stanley Robinson (Birmingham, Ala.) jumper with 9:26 to go in the half. The lead was ten, 33-23, with 5:06 to go in the half, but the Zags went on a 14-3 run to take their only lead of the half, 37-36, with 1:59 left in the half on a Pargo layup. Price made a pair of free throws with four seconds left to retake the lead for UConn. Both heralded centers in the contest, UConn’s Hasheem Thabeet and Gonzaga’s Josh Heytvelt, struggled with foul trouble in the half.
UConn continues the season at home with a 7 p.m. contest against non-conference foe, Fairfield on Dec. 26 at the XL Center in Hartford.