LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) -- Connecticut came into the Maui
Invitational without suspended point guard Marcus Williams, and
star forward Rudy Gay struggled to score in the final two games.
Still, the Huskies found a way to win this rugged tournament.
Denham Brown hit a turnaround jumper with 1.1 seconds left to
give No. 3 Connecticut a 65-63 victory over Gonzaga (No. 9 ESPN USA Today, No. 8 AP) on
Wednesday night in the championship game.
"This is our team and it's a pretty good one," Huskies coach
Jim Calhoun said. "When Rudy didn't play well, Denham stepped up.
There were other guys, too. We appear to be a pretty good team with
a lot of answers."
The Huskies (4-0) were able to win for a second straight game
with Gay struggling offensively. Brown, center Hilton Armstrong and
freshman forward Jeff Adrien all stepped up to fill the void. None
were bigger than Brown, who hit the winning shot over Adam Morrison
and J.P. Batista.
The buzzer sounded but the officials put 1.1 seconds back on the
clock and Gonzaga (3-1), which had reached the final by beating No.
12 Michigan State 109-106 in triple overtime in one of the best
regular-season games ever played, wasn't able to get off a decent
shot as the buzzer sounded for real.
"It was another great game and we almost found a way to keep it
going," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "UConn is a tough, tough,
tough team, battled-tested and tough to score on. They contest
every one of your shots."
The Bulldogs contested Brown's final shot.
"I was trying to get to the rim and I saw the double-team," he
said. "I knew I had 4.2 seconds so I was able to go toward the
basket. I shook Morrison a little bit and got the shot off."
Morrison gave Brown credit for a great play.
"He shot a right-handed hook over a 6-8 guy. It was a great
shot," he said. "I didn't want to foul him so I put my hands up.
All tournament it was big plays and he made a big play."
The Huskies, who beat Arizona (No. 8 ESPN USA Today, No. 9 AP) 79-70 in the semifinals,
went up 63-59 with 37 seconds left on a free throw by Craig
Derek Raivio of Gonzaga made two free throws with 26 seconds
left to get the Bulldogs to 63-61.
Gay's shooting woes continued on the free throw line as he
missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 25 seconds left. Gonzaga
came down court and Morrison had two shots blocked by Armstrong,
who finished with five blocks. However, Gay fouled Batista on the
rebound of the second shot with 6.6 seconds to go.
Batista made both, setting the stage for Brown's game-winner.
Rashad Anderson had 14 points for Connecticut, while Adrien
added 11 and Gay had 10. Brown, who finished 4-for-11 from the
field, had nine points. Adrien had seven points in a 5-minute span
of the second half as the Huskies took a 58-50 lead with 7:19 to
"Rashad got us off the schneid when we were stagnant," Calhoun
said. "I think Rudy is one of the best players in the country. We
have components, size and enough go-to players."
Morrison, the tournament MVP who had a Maui Invitational-record
43 points against Michigan State, finished with 18. Batista had 19
points and eight rebounds.
Gay had six points on 2-for-10 shooting and five turnovers
against Arizona. He was 5-for-10 against Gonzaga but, except for a
big dunk with 5:23 left, was never a factor in Connecticut's
offense in the second half.
Connecticut had everyone available take a turn guarding
Morrison, but Brown had the main responsibility and he got big help
on the baseline from Armstrong, who had seven rebounds.
"They kept running fresh guys at me," Morrison said. "I took
some bad shots early and I started feeling settled in the second
This was Connecticut's first title in an in-season tournament it
didn't host since the 1956 Orange Bowl Classic, a run of 23
tournaments. It came in an eight-team field that had four teams
ranked in the top 12, plus Maryland (No. 20 ESPN/USA Today, No. 23 AP).
"It's a tremendous sense of accomplishment and an amazing
feeling to win," Calhoun said. "This field was one of the best
ever and there isn't anyone here who didn't get their money's
This was the second meeting between the schools. The first was
Connecticut's 67-62 victory in the West Regional final in 1999 that
sent the Huskies on to their first national championship.