PHILADELPHIA, PA (February 28) -- With the Huskies trailing by a point with under ten seconds to play in overtime, freshman Josh Boone rebounded a Ben Gordon miss and made a lay-up under pressure to put the Huskies up for good, as the No. 8 University of Connecticut men's basketball team squeaked by Villanova 75-74 at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pa.
With the victory, the Huskies' fourth straight, UConn improves to 23-5 on the campaign and remains tied for second place in BIG EAST play with a league mark of 11-3. Villanova slips to 14-12, 6-8.
Junior Player of the Year candidate Emeka Okafor blocked Randy Foye's last second attempt to preserve the UConn victory.
The overtime session saw seven lead-changes and three ties. Senior Taliek Brown spun free in the lane and hit a lay-up to put the Huskies up 71-70 with 2:05 remaining, but Curtis Sumpter made a pair of free throws, and the Wildcats recaptured the lead. After Gordon and Okafor each hit a free throw with under one minute to go Sumpter, who scored six of Villanova's eight points in the extra session, hit a turnaround jumper in the lane to set the stage for Boone's heroics.
Gordon led the way for Connecticut with 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting including 5-of-9 from long range. Okafor scored 17 points and snared six boards. Okafor also blocked two shots; one at the end of regulation and the second as time expired in OT. Boone dropped in 11 points and grabbed nine rebounds including six on the offensive glass.
Taliek Brown was also solid in the victory, scoring 10 points, chasing down five rebounds and dishing out four assists while turning the ball over only once in 43 minutes of action. Freshman Charlie Villanueva scored eight points and blocked four shots in 17 minutes.
Sophomore Rashad Anderson came through in the clutch for the Huskies as well. After an Allan Ray jumper in the lane put Villanova up 66-63 with 25 seconds remaining in regulation, Gordon drove baseline and the Wildcat defense collapsed on him. Gordon found Anderson open in the corner from behind the arc. Anderson gave an up fake to free himself and then drained the game-tying shot with seven seconds left, forcing an extra five minutes.
UConn was out-rebounded for only the third time all season, as the Huskies lost the battle of the boards 40-to-27. The 27 rebounds were a season low for UConn. Connecticut shot at a solid 45% clip, but allowed the Wildcats to shoot 44% on the afternoon.
Sumpter poured in a game-high 22 and Allan Ray scored 20 for Villanova.
The Huskies are back in action when they take on BIG EAST foe Seton Hall on Monday, March 1 at Gampel Pavilion. Game time is set for 7:00 p.m. and the game will be televised nationally by ESPN as part of its Big Monday package.