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Double Overtime Thriller Gives UConn Fifth BIG EAST Title


NEW YORK (Saturday, March 09, 2002) – Taliek Brown (So., Queens, NY) nailed a 30-foot three-pointer with 34.8 seconds remaining to elevate Connecticut (#19 AP/#24 ESPN/USA Today) to a 74-65 double-overtime victory over seventh-ranked Pittsburgh and the program’s fifth BIG EAST Tournament Championship Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.  

UConn’s record stands at 24-6 overall as the Huskies received the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament. Pittsburgh dropped to 27-5 with the loss.

Connecticut led by two after a putback by Emeka Okafor (Fr., Houston, TX) made the score 52-50 with a minute to play.  On the ensuing possession, Pittsburgh’s Brandin Knight drove to the basket and dished off to Jaron Brown for a left-handed lay-up.  Knight was injured on the play and limped off the court for observation.

UConn had a shot to end the game in regulation, but a baseline runner by Caron Butler (So., Racine, WI) and a shot by Okafor (Fr., Houston, TX) were both blocked.

In the first overtime, Ben Gordon’s (Fr., Mount Vernon, NY) three with 1:51 remaining put the Huskies up 60-55, but Donatas Zavackas hit his second three of the extra period to make it a two point game before Ontario Lett laid it in with 33.4 seconds to go to even things again at 60.

UConn again had a chance for the last shot, but Gordon drove and slipped with 1.7 seconds and the Pittsburgh defense created a jump ball. The possession arrow gave the ball to the Panthers, and Knight reentered the game to take the final shot. His heave from just inside half court hit the side of the rim as time expired.

With the score even at 64 in the second overtime, UConn took control when Butler drained a turnaround jumper.  A defensive stop set the stage for Brown’s dramatic three, which he launched with the shot clock winding down to make it 69-64.

Butler, the BIG EAST Tournament Most Outstanding Player, finished with a game-high 23 points on 10-of-19 shooting and pulled down nine rebounds.  Brown and Gordon added 13 and 11, respectively, and Okafor finished with his sixth double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds. 

Gordon, who finished with 11 points on the night, joined Butler on the All-Tournament Team.  Also named to the team were Pittsburgh’s Brandin Knight, Notre Dame’s Chris Thomas and Miami’s Marcus Barnes.