McNamara does it again; Syracuse upsets UConn
New York, NY (Sports Network) – Gerry McNamara drilled another late three-
pointer, this time to force overtime, and hit three free throws in the closing
seconds of the extra session to help Syracuse to an 86-84 victory over top-
ranked Connecticut in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament at Madison
McNamara, who hit a running three-pointer in the final second to beat
Cincinnati in the first round on Wednesday, finished with 17 points and 13
assists for the Orange (21-11), who may have earned a berth in the NCAA
Tournament with the upset victory.
Syracuse, which had lost three straight entering the Big East Tournament, will
face Georgetown in Friday’s semifinals after the Hoyas upended Marquette. The
Orange knocked out Connecticut in the Big East semifinals last year on the
way to the tournament crown.
“It’s a great win,” said Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim. “I’d say it’s one of
the best we’ve ever had at Syracuse and I’ve only been here about 44 years.”
Denham Brown scored 20 points and Marcus Williams added 17 with 11 assists for
Connecticut (27-3), which had beaten Syracuse twice during the regular season.
The Huskies will still likely be a top seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The Orange led for the entire contest until a three-pointer by Rashad Anderson
with 32.1 seconds to play in regulation gave UConn its first lead at 72-71.
After a Syracuse miss, Brown hit two free throws to give the Huskies a three-
McNamara, though, for the second straight day had an answer.
The senior drove through the Cincinnati defense on Wednesday and fired up a
one-handed three-pointer that fell through to give the Orange a 74-73 win.
This time, he pulled up just beyond the NBA arc and drained the shot to tie it
for Syracuse with 5.5 seconds left.
“Yesterday’s shot, under the circumstances, was the most important, but I’d
have to change that today. We needed it,” McNamara commented.
UConn had one more chance, but Williams’ shot was off the mark.
The Huskies took a 78-76 lead in overtime, but Darryl Watkins converted a
three-point play with 3:20 left to put the Orange on top. Demetris Nichols
then hit two free throws for Syracuse and McNamara added a pair to give the
Orange an 83-78 edge with 48 seconds to play.
Brown made UConn’s first field goal of the extra period, drilling a shot from
beyond the arc with 27 seconds left to pull the Huskies within two.
After Watkins, a 51-percent free throw shooter, made two from the stripe, Eric
Devendorf came up with a steal for Syracuse. Instead of pulling the ball out
and making UConn foul, Devendorf went hard to the basket and missed a layup.
Brown responded for UConn with another three-pointer to make it an 85-84 game
with 16 seconds left.
McNamara was fouled on the inbound pass and made just one of two free throws
to give UConn life.
Williams snuck inside the arc and missed a shot from the elbow as time
expired, giving Syracuse the stunning victory.
“We’ve struggled at times this year,” McNamara added. “We could have come in
here and [rolled] over and just laid an egg. We haven’t. We came in here with
a purpose and what we did today was pretty special because we think pretty
highly of Connecticut.”
The Orange led 39-28 at halftime and extended their advantage to as many as 14
in the second half before Connecticut finally made a comeback. A 13-3 Husky
run tied it at 65-65 with just under five minutes to play in the contest.
It was still tied four minutes later when Devendorf blocked a shot and
followed with a neat drive to the basket to give Syracuse a 71-69 lead with 53
Rudy Gay missed a three-point attempt for UConn and McNamara came down with
the tough rebound, but was called for a travel and the Huskies got another
chance with 39.3 seconds left.
This time the ball went to Anderson, who drained a three-pointer from the left
wing to put the Huskies in front, setting up the final moments of regulation
and McNamara’s heroics.
“Gerry wouldn’t let it get away,” said Boeheim of his star guard a day after
he was critical of newspaper reports saying McNamara was overrated. “He was
playing on about half-a-leg today. He amazes me every time I see him play.
He’s got more guts than anybody I’ve ever coached.”
Syracuse scored the first 10 points of the game and held Connecticut without a
point until a pair of Josh Boone free throws started a string of nine straight
for the Huskies. UConn didn’t make a field goal until nearly seven minutes
into the contest.
The Orange answered Connecticut’s run with a 12-3 spurt and grabbed a 22-12
lead on a jumper by Terrence Roberts with 8:16 left in the opening half.
Connecticut chipped away and pulled within 30-28 on a bucket by Williams, but
Syracuse followed with the next nine points to close the half. Devendorf
scored five and Roberts finished it with a dunk off a great feed from McNamara
to give the Orange a 39-28 advantage at the break.
McNamara scored just three points in the opening half, all on free throws, but
had 10 assists. Nichols led the Orange with 13 first-half points, while
Roberts chipped in 12.
“Just as we thought, [McNamara’s] shot yesterday, carried their momentum into
this game,” said UConn head coach Jim Calhoun. “They took it right to us. We
were the team that looked slow. We were the team that looked like it couldn’t
attack a zone. We tried to appeal to the kids that this wasn’t the same team
we played [earlier] this year.”
Another McNamara assist led to the first basket of the second half, but UConn
connected on back-to-back three-pointers to quickly trim the deficit to seven.
The Orange, though, again answered and a three-pointer by McNamara with 16 1/2
minutes remaining gave Syracuse its largest lead at 49-35.
Nichols finished with 17 points, while Roberts scored 16 and Watkins added 14.
Devendorf chipped in with 13 points…Gay scored 12 for UConn, while Anderson
finished with 10…Boone was just 1-for-11 from the field and finished with
seven points. He had a game-high 13 rebounds…Hilton Armstrong contributed 14
points and 10 boards for UConn.