NEW YORK (AP) -- No one told Georgetown that Connecticut was
supposed to have an easy trip into the semifinals of the Big East
The Huskies, despite making just one field goal over the final 5
minutes, hung on to beat Georgetown 66-62 on Thursday night.
"They had the mental attitude before the game that it was a
matter of pushing the button and we would win," Connecticut coach
Jim Calhoun said. "I had to work the entire game to get them out
Freshman Rudy Gay, who led the Huskies with 17 points, was
honest in his approach to the game.
"It was closer than I thought it would be," he said.
The second-seeded Huskies (22-6) advanced to
Friday's semifinals and will play third-seeded and 16th-ranked
Syracuse, which beat Rutgers 81-57.
Connecticut has been in the last three championship games,
winning the title in 2002 and 2004, and has reached the semifinals
in seven of the last eight years.
"There are only five or six kids on this team who ever played
in Madison Square Garden," Calhoun said. "I tried to be a
basketball romantic before the game and tell them how great it is
to play here on Friday and Saturday night. It worked so well we
almost lost the game."
Marcus Williams had 14 points and 10 assists for Connecticut,
which won its seventh straight and 10th of 11.
"I think we played one of our poorer games and a lot of that
was caused by Georgetown," Calhoun said. "I think we were loose,
didn't savor thing and took ill-advised shots, threw the ball away.
"We played some awfully good basketball against some very good
teams. We didn't play particularly well tonight but we're playing
Ashanti Cook had 17 points and Brandon Bowman added 15 for the
Hoyas (17-12), who could have sealed their NCAA Tournament at-large
chances with a win but now can only wait for the field to be
"We did a good job to put ourselves in a position to win and
just came up short," first-year Hoyas coach John Thompson III
Connecticut led 55-43 with 9:46 to play on a 3-pointer by
But seventh-seeded Georgetown, which beat Seton Hall 55-51 in
the opening round to snap a five-game losing streak, stayed close
despite Connecticut shooting 54 percent.
Ray Reed's drive with 2:48 left brought the Hoyas within 62-57.
Josh Boone scored on a reverse with 1:17 left -- the Huskies'
lone field goal over the final 5:15 -- to make it 64-57.
Bowman made two free throws for Georgetown with 57 seconds to
go. Connecticut's Charlie Villanueva turned the ball over and
Darrel Owens, the hero of the Hoyas' opening-round win, hit a 3
with 40 seconds left to make it a two-point game.
With the sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden cheering in
favor the Hoyas, Gay missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 25
seconds left. Georgetown worked for a final shot and Cook's jumper
with 4 seconds left bounced off the rim. Denham Brown grabbed the
rebound, was fouled and made two free throws with 1.5 seconds to
"We knew the play we wanted to run and it was wide open,"
Thompson said. "A guy who played well just didn't hit it."
Rashad Anderson, Connecticut's leading scorer with a 13.8
average, returned after missing seven games following treatment for
a staph infection in his leg. He was 0-for-1 had had three assists
and two steals in 11 minutes.
"I was trying to get Rashad spots where he could have some
success," Calhoun said. "The game seemed to be playing that way
but obviously it changed near the end. we had to try to win the
game, never mind get Rashad success. He'll come back tomorrow and
be ready to play at least as many minutes if not more."
Thompson had one big fan right behind his bench. Hall of Famer
John Thompson, who led Georgetown to six Big East tournament
titles, was sitting in the first row watching his son coach up
"I saw him sitting there but I didn't speak to him today," the
younger Thompson said.