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Brown's shot part of memorable Big East thriller

3/10/2002

NEW YORK (AP) -- Connecticut hit the desperation shot in the
second overtime and wore the smiles of champions. Pittsburgh missed
its miracle heave at the end of the first overtime and was left in
physical and emotional pain.

A classic Big East tournament championship game will be
remembered for a lot more than those two shots, however, as the
19th-ranked Huskies beat No. 7 Pittsburgh 74-65 in double overtime
Saturday night for their fifth conference title.

Two very good defensive teams played excellent defense for 50
minutes in a game that symbolized what the conference has been
about since its inception.

"That was one of the most physical games we have been involved
in, and we think we're a pretty tough basketball team,"
Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said after the first meeting of the
season between the league's division winners.

"I thought we stepped up and made plays to get another
championship."

The title is Connecticut's fifth, putting it one behind
Georgetown for most championships in league history.

The Huskies' last title was in 1999 when they went on to win the
national championship. It was their seventh title game and sixth in
eight years.

"From when we came here in 1986 we always wanted to be part of
what made this league successful," Calhoun said. "We wanted to
win this and be the best in our neighborhood."

Caron Butler, the tournament MVP, gave Connecticut (24-6) the
lead for good at 66-64 on a turnaround jumper with 1:59 left in the
second overtime.

After Pittsburgh (27-5) missed two shots, Connecticut tried to
run down the shot clock, and freshman Ben Gordon was tied up by two
Panthers. The possession arrow was in the Huskies' favor, but there
were only two seconds left on the 35-second clock.

Taliek Brown took the inbounds pass, had nowhere to go and
hoisted a 30-footer from straight on that went in and gave the
Huskies a 69-64 lead.

"I knew it was going in," Brown said, laughing. "I didn't
have nothing to lose. I just threw it up and it went in."

It took the air out of Pittsburgh, which had its chance for
college basketball lore at the end of the first overtime.

Brandin Knight, the league's co-player of the year along with
Butler, slipped on the court and injured his right knee just as
Pittsburgh tied the game at 52 with 31 seconds left after his
assist led to Jaron Brown's basket down low.

Knight stayed down on the court for several minutes and was
taken to the locker room after Connecticut missed two chances at
winning it in regulation.

He came out of the same tunnel an injured Willis Reed did in
1970 for the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden and went to
the bench with 1:02 left in the overtime and Connecticut leading
60-58.

Ontario Lett tied it for the Panthers on a drive with 23 seconds
left. The Huskies ran down the clock, but Gordon was tied up and
the arrow gave the ball to the Panthers with 1.7 seconds to go.

Knight limped to the scorer's table and reported in. Jaron Brown
inbounded the ball near midcourt, got it to Knight and his
40-footer as the buzzer bounced off the rim as Knight fell to the
floor in obvious pain.

Pittsburgh coach Ben Howland said Knight asked to go back in the
game.

"I have unbelievable confidence in Brandin Knight, so if
anybody was going to make that shot it was going to be he,"
Howland said. "And you saw it hit rim."

Knight didn't play at all in the second overtime, sitting on the
bench with an ice bag on his knee. Howland said Knight had a
sprained knee and would undergo an MRI on Sunday in Pittsburgh.

"Any time you lose your best player, your point guard, your
quarterback," Howland said without finishing the thought. "Our
team showed a lot of character. We had a lot of tired bodies out
there. It was a heck of a college basketball game."

Knight, who sat slumped on the bench not even looking up during
the final minute of the second overtime, was receiving treatment
after the game and did not talk to reporters.

Butler finished with 23 points for the Huskies, who have won
nine straight, while Taliek Brown had 13 and Gordon 11.

Brown was 1-for-11 from 3-point range in conference play this
season and 6-for-24 overall.

"There is nothing he really fears basketball-wise," Calhoun
said of his sophomore point guard. "Sometimes that's great and
sometimes it's not. That was a remarkable shot."

Lett had 17 points for the Panthers, who had won their last
eight. Knight and Donatas Zavackas each added 15.

Knight had eight assists, tying the school record for a season
with 229.

Pittsburgh, which has set a school record for wins, was in the
title game for the second straight year. The Panthers lost to
Boston College last year in their first try at the championship.

"We're moving on to the big dance now and we're just going to
have to bounce back," Howland said, referring to the NCAA
tournament.

It was the second-longest title game in league history. Syracuse
beat Villanova 83-80 in three overtimes in 1981.