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Hungry Huskies Win Fourth Championship

After the game, UConn senior guard, Shabazz Napier, explained to the crowd at AT&T Stadium in Dallas Texas how UConn defeated the odds, and some of the country’s highest ranked teams, to win their fourth national title. They were hungry. They were the “Hungry Huskies.” UConn left it all on the floor as they beat an extremely talented Kentucky team by a score of 60 to 53.

Click here to read Dom Amore game story and click here to read his story about how this championship will be a goldmine for recruiting, and a new contract for the coach. Click here to read Jeff Jacobs column on how the Huskies won the championship by climbing one step at a time.

UConn Huskies guard Shabazz Napier, 13, reacts after the game.

UConn Huskies guard Shabazz Napier, 13, reacts after the game.

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UConn Men Advance To NCAA Championship Game

The game ended much differently than it started. Midway through the first period, UConn was down by twelve points, 16 to 4. But after a called timeout UConn roared back to score 11 unanswered points, which saw DeAndrea Daniels hit the three-point- shots. When UConn ended the first half with a three point lead, the tide had turned, and the Huskies had the waves at their back the rest of the way. UConn defeated the Florida Gators Saturday night to advance the the NCAA Division I Championship game against Kentucky Monday.

Click here to read Dom Amore’s game story. Click here to read Paul Doyle’s story on Shabazz Napier, the kid from Roxbury. Click here to read Jeff Jacobs’ column about UConn being one game away from redemption. Click here for Dom Amore story on UConn brimming with confidence.

DeAndre Daniels signals #1 after scoring a 3-pointer in the 2nd half as UConn pulled ahead.

DeAndre Daniels signals #1 after scoring a 3-pointer in the 2nd half as UConn pulled ahead.

 

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UConn Men Defeat MSU Spartans, Advance to Final Four

The University  of Connecticut men’s basketball team continued their tradition of creating remarkable memories for Connecticut fans on the wooden planks of the “World’s Most Famous Arena.”  They started off strong against the powerful Michigan State University Spartans, but finished even stronger. In between, however, they created a little drama by  falling behind by as many as nine points in the second half. But when the final buzzer sounded, the Huskies ended up defeating the Spartans by a score of 60 to 54 in the NCAA Division I East Regional at Madison Garden in New York. They will now travel to Dallas Texas to play in the Final Four.

Shabazz Napier led the Huskies in points, 25, and bloody nose’s, 1, as UConn fought hard in front of a Connecticut friendly crowd. Former UConn players from past Championships were in the audience.

Click here to read Dom Amore’s game story. Click here, to read Paul Doyle’s story on Boatright’s defense. Click here to read Jeff Jakobs’ column on Kevin Ollie taking the stairs. 

In the closing seconds of the game, UConn Huskies guard Shabazz Napier, 13, flashes a four finger salute possibly signifying a trip to the Final Four. It will be Napier's second trip to the "Big Dance," as he was a member of the Championship team of 2011.

In the closing seconds of the game, UConn Huskies guard Shabazz Napier, 13, flashes a four finger salute possibly signifying a trip to the Final Four. It will be Napier’s second trip to the “Big Dance,” as he was a member of the Championship team of 2011.

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UConn Is Great!!!… 8

The University of Connecticut Huskies added to their long string of impressive victories in “The World’s Most Famous Arena,” with a hard fought victory over the Iowa State Cyclones by a score of 81 to 76, on their way through the NCCA’s Division One tournament. By winning the game, UConn left the Sweet Sixteen and embraced the Great Eight, and a chance to battle Michigan State for a trip to the Final Four.

For further coverage, please click here to read the game story by Dom Amore, click here, to read Paul Doyle’s story, and click here to read Jeff Jacobs’ column. And please click here, or the link below, to see more photos from the game made by myself, and Courant colleague Brad Horrigan.

UConn Huskies forward DeAndre Daniels, 2, reacts after hitting a three-point shot as Iowa State Cyclones guard DeAndre Kane, 50, looks away during the second half.

UConn Huskies forward DeAndre Daniels, 2, reacts after hitting a three-point shot as Iowa State Cyclones guard DeAndre Kane, 50, looks away during the second half.

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UConn Loses To Louisville

The University of Connecticut didn’t play bad, they just ran into a very hot Louisville team. UConn was able to slow Louisville’s offense by with their own good defense, but Louisville’s defense was stifling at times. Especially in the closing seconds of the first half, which saw them score five quick points, the last basket off a steal. UConn lost to the University of Louisville Cardinals in the championship game of the American Athletic Conference at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tenn. Saturday night by a score of 71 to 61.

Click here to read Dom Amore’s game story and click here to read his story about the zone.

Click here to read Jeff Jacobs’ story on why Louisville is the team no one wants to play in the NCAA tournament.

University of Connecticut Huskies guard Ryan Boatright, 11, reacts to a referees call giving the ball to Louisville during the second period.

University of Connecticut Huskies guard Ryan Boatright, 11, reacts to a referees call giving the ball to Louisville during the second period.

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UConn Huskies Defeat Memphis Tigers

It wasn’t just a win, it was a big win. It was a victory road win in an unfriendly arena over the nationally ranked Memphis Tigers. This victory meant much more than one just one more mark in the win column, it seemed to send a message that this team is the real deal. DeAndre Daniels scored 18 of his game high 23 points in the second half to lead the way, and Shabazz Napier contributed 17 points, 10 assists, and gritty determination in the closing minutes to seal the win. And for Ryan Boatright, the win must have helped in briefly taking his mind of the loss of a close cousin, who was killed Monday night. The letters “AW,” for Arin Williams, were written on his left cheek for the game, as he played with little sleep. But he played hard, and he played aggressive.

Click here to read Jeff Jacobs’ column on Ryan Boatright.

And click here to read Dom Amore’s game story on the UConn win.

From left, University of Connecticut Huskies center Amida Brimah, 35, University of Connecticut Huskies guard Ryan Boatright, 11, and University of Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Niels Giffey, 5,  react after the game.

From left, University of Connecticut Huskies center Amida Brimah, 35, University of Connecticut Huskies guard Ryan Boatright, 11, and University of Connecticut Huskies guard/forward Niels Giffey, 5, react after the game.

 

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Connecticut Mens Basketbal: UConn Beats Yale

Omar Calhoun poured in a game high 18 points. Niels Giffey hit multiple three point baskets and scoring 15 points in the first half. And all the while, Senior guard Shabazz Naapier, was the one passing them the ball, pulling down the rebounds, and scoring a few points of his own. When the final buzzer sounded, Napier had tallied 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for a rare triple double. It was only the tenth time in UConn history that feat had been accomplished, and now two of those belong to Napier.

UConn beat Yale by a final score of 80 to 62. Click here to see a photo gallery of the game. Click here to read Dom Amore’s game story.

Huskies Senior guard Shabazz Napier, 13, makes a there point basket late in the second half.

Huskies Senior guard Shabazz Napier, 13, makes a there point basket late in the second half.

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UConn’s First Night

UConn previewed the 2013-14 basketball season with their annual First Night celebration before a packed house at Gampel Pavilion Friday night. The event included the usual autograph signing, player introductions – with several showing off their dance moves – and a few trivia games for the players and contests for the fans. Then, for the first time, the two teams merged for an inter-squad scrimmage pitting Team Geno, in white, against Team Kevin in blue. Team Geno came from behind to win it, 51-49. To read Jeff Jacob’s column and see more coverage of the event, click here.

STORRS 10/18/13 Members of Team Geno seek crowd support during a trivia game at UConn's First Night festivities.  They are Phil Nolan, Omar Calhoun, Breanna Stewart, Shabazz Napier, Bria Hartley (back to camera), Tor Watts and Niels Giffey (l-r.)  CLOE POISSON|cpoisson@courant.com

STORRS 10/18/13 Members of Team Geno seek crowd support during a trivia game at UConn’s First Night festivities. They are Phil Nolan, Omar Calhoun, Breanna Stewart, Shabazz Napier, Bria Hartley (back to camera), Tor Watts and Niels Giffey (l-r.) CLOE POISSON|cpoisson@courant.com

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Ray Allen Donates Computer Lab

Basketball star Ray Allen offers high fives to students filing into the Wish School's new computer lab funded by Allen's foundation Ray of Hope. The students are from left, Jadalin DeJesus, 11, and twin sister Shania Coleman and Amya Coleman.

Basketball star Ray Allen offers high fives to students filing into the Wish School’s new computer lab funded by Allen’s foundation Ray of Hope. The students are from left, Jadalin DeJesus, 11, and twin sister Shania Coleman and Amya Coleman.

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The Faces of Jim Calhoun

3-22-2002 Syracuse, NY Coach Jim Calhoun reacts during the second half. RICH MESSINA | rmessina@courant.com

Jim Calhoun, who took UConn from just another basketball program in 1986 to one of the best in the country winning three national championships, officially announced his retirement Thursday after 26 years as UConn basketball head coach. As sports photographers, we will all miss coach Calhoun on the sidelines. His rants, tirades, smiles (usually sarcastic), screams at referees, and outrageous faces make great photos. Very often, if the game was in the bag, we might just train our lenses on the coach. It never fails, he always makes a good picture. Love him or hate him, he was always good copy and ALWAYS great photos. At Eye Contact, we have put together a gallery of Coach Calhoun’s expressions from throughout his many seasons at UConn. Enjoy.

Chapel Hill, NC 1-17-2004 Head Coach Jim Calhoun looks over the play late in the second half. RICH MESSINA | rmessina@courant.com

STORRS, CT 1/6/01 Coach Jim Calhoun has had plenty of opinions about the officiating so far this season as he gets into it Saturday afternoon with Reggie Greenwood during UConn’s game against St. John’s at Gample Pavilion. JOHN WOIKE | jwoike@courant.com

PHOENIX, AZ. 3.20.99 — WEST REGIONAL FINALS, MENS NCAA s, Uconn vs Gonzaga — Head coach Jim Calhoun cried after winning his first trip to the final four. At post game ceremonies after winning the West Regional, Calhoun, stilled teary-eyed cut down the nets and displayed it to the fans who came to Phoenix to cheer Uconn on. Photo by Brad Clift / Hartford Courant.

Storrs, CT 3/11/01 Coach Jim Calhoun reflects on what was a disappointing season for the Uconn men’s basketball team Sunday evening after learning they were not invited to the NCAA Championship Tournament. JOHN WOIKE | jwoike@courant.com

Hartford, CT 1/7/02 Head coach Jim Calhoun signals his troops to get back on defense during the closing moments as the UConn men almost pulled out a victory Monday night against the University of Oklahoma at the Hartford Civic Center. Oklahoma’s Ebi Ere scored the winning hoop for a 69-67 Sooner victory. JOHN WOIKE | jwoike@courant.com

STORRS, CT; 2.8.00: UConn basketball coach Jim Calhoun talks with the media after a team practice Tuesday. MICHAEL McANDREWS | mmcandrews@courant.com

New York, NY 2-21-2000 Coach Jim Calhoun puts his head down early in the second half as st. John began to pull away with the game. St. johns won 79 to 64. RICH MESSINA | rmessina@courant.com

Birmingham Alabama, 3/19/00: Coach Jim Calhoun gives Kevin Freeman a hug as he walks off the court in Birmingham Alabama Sunday afternoon after losing 65-51 to Tennesse during the NCAA Tournament. It was Freeman’s last game as a UCONN Huskie. JOHN WOIKE | jwoike@courant.com

HARTFORD-1/2/10- UConn’s head coach Jim Calhoun went into a tirade late in the game when Notre Dame’s high scorer, Luke Harangody, scored yet again. UConn was ahead by 11 pts. at the time but Calhoun was not pleased with the defensive play of his team. Harangody had a game-high 31 pts. UConn beat Notre Dame at the XL Center Saturday, 82-70. STEPHEN DUNN|sdunn@courant.com

STORRS 2/12/10- Coach Jim Calhoun returned to the court at Gampel Pavilion Friday afternoon after a 3 week medical leave of absence.In photo Calhoun talks about the future during a press conference. STEPHEN DUNN|sdunn@courant.com

Storrs, CT 3/2/05 Jim Calhoun waves to the crowd at Gampel Pavilion after UConn defeated Georgetown 83-64 and he earned his 700th victory. JOHN WOIKE | jwoike@courant.com

Storrs, CT 1/10/07 UConn head coach Jim Calhoun (L) and assistant coach George Blaney try to get their point across during the second half against Marquette. It never got through to the players as the Huskies dropped first home game of the season 73-69. JOHN WOIKE | jwoike@courant.com

UNCASVILLE 8/9/08 UConn coach Jim Calhoun laughs with former player Ben Gordon during the Jim Calhoun Charity All-Star Basketball Game at the Mohegan Sun Arena. CLOE POISSON | cpoisson@courant.com

Storrs, CT 11/26/06 UConn head coach Jim Calhoun looks to be disinterested in his teams effort duiring the second half. JOHN WOIKE | jwoike@courant.com

Phoenix, AZ 3/27/04 Jim Calhoun raises his arm holding the net after UConn defeated Alabama 87-71 Saturday afternoon in the Phoenix Regional to advance to the Final Four in San Antonio. JOHN WOIKE | jwoike@courant.com

HARTFORD 2/13/10 UConn’s head coach Jim Calhoun shouts instructions to his team during the second half of their game against Cincinnati at the XL Center. It was Calhoun’s first game after returning from a three-week medical leave. UConn did not deliver a win for their coach, losing 60-48. CLOE POISSON | cpoisson@courant.com

HARTFORD 2/13/10 UConn head coach Jim Calhoun was animated as ever in his first game coaching after a three-week medical leave of absence. They lost to Cincinnati, 60-48, at the XL Center. CLOE POISSON|cpoisson@courant.com

Buffalo, NY 3/18/04 Jim Calhoun gives Hilton Armstrong a look after Amstrong failed to defend his player and he hit a three pointer during the second half in a 70-53 UConn victory at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo, NY in the first round of the NCAA Championships. JOHN WOIKE | jwoike@courant.com

Storrs, CT 12-06, 2009 UConn Head Coach Jim Calhoun watches game action during the second half. The UConn mens basketball team beat Harvard University at Gampel Pavilion on their Storrs campus Sunday afternoon by a score of 79 to 73. RICH MESSINA | rmessina@courant.com

Worcester, MA 3-20-2005 Coach Jim Calhoun motions on the sideline after a time out was called on the court. UConn lost to North Carolina State in the second round of the by a score of 65 to 62. RICH MESSINA | rmessina@courant.com

Philadelphia, PA 2-15-2010 UConn UConn Head Coach Jim Calhoun sits on the bench during the second half. RICH MESSINA | rmessina@courant.com

Atlanta, GA 02-11-2007 UConn coach Jim Calhoun tries to plead his case to the referee on a call agianst his team during first half action. The UConn mens basketball team lost to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta by a score of 65 to 52. RICH MESSINA | rmessina@courant.com

Manhattan, NY 3/13/08 UConn head coach Jim Calhoun lets Stanley Robinson know of his displeasure after allowing another West Virginia player to hit an open three and extend the Mountaineers lead during the second half of their quarterfinal game of the Big East Championship. JOHN WOIKE | jwoike@courant.com

HARTFORD 2.13.01 UConn vs Boston College. Coach Jim Calhoun gets into the action against Boston College. JOHN WOIKE | jwoike@courant.com

STORRS, CT; 2/7/09: UConn coach Jim Calhoun looks peeved as his team misses a shot during the second half against Michigan at Gampel Pavilion. After struggling in the first half, UConn pulled out the win, 69-61. CLOE POISSON|cpoisson@courant.com

HOUSTON – TX – 04/04/11 – Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun celebrates the Huskies’ 53-41 win over Butler for the 2011 NCAA Final Four National Championship in Houston, Texas. UConn is behind 22-19 at the half. BETTINA HANSEN | bhansen@courant.com

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UConn Men in the Big East Championship

  • University of Connecticut sophomore guard Shabazz Napier, 13, steals the ball from West Virginia University freshman guard, Gary Browne, 14,  his first of two late game steals. On this one, he ended up scoring to bring the score to 63 to 61.
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With the UConn Men’s basketball team heading out to Louisville to try and repeat a little of last years magic, I thought it was a good time to discuss last weeks Big East Championship, which, like March Madness, is one of a few assignments that guarantee to create defining moments. The challenge to the sports photographer is to capture them. These days, a quick glance at the back of the digital camera reveals if you got “the shot,” but that wasn’t always the case.

During the days of film, we would have to wait until the film was developed to know if we caught the defining moment. During late games, we wouldn’t even wait for the film to dry. We’d “wet edit” each roll by holding the dripping negatives up the light and scanning the roll with a magnifying loop. It was only then that we knew if we had caught the play of the game.

But every game doesn’t produce a defining moment. Sometimes a player is the definitive image. Sometimes it’s the coach. But when a game does have a decisive moment, to be in position to see it and have the camera trained on the right player at the right time, and have the moment in focus, is truly a time to celebrate.  When it all comes together, it’s very satisfying. It’s very frustrating, however, when the play happens, and a player is blocking your view, or the player moves out of the frame, or worse of all, if all the other obstacles are overcome only to find the image is out of focus.

Although UConn didn’t have a miraculous five game winning streak like they did last year, they played well and produced some memorable moments. This blog contains a few decisive moments. And it’s missing others that simply got away. One in particular was a tremendous one-handed dunk by UConn’s Andre Drummond. During the shot, the referee moved between me and the basket and all I could hear was the roar of the crowd. I quickly shot anyway hoping my remote camera under the basket would have the moment. It didn’t so that moment is not part of this blog.

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Desperate Days – UConn Men Fall to ‘Cuse

One of the things I love about shooting sports is the ebb and flow of a game. This season the reigning national champion UConn men’s basketball team has seen more “ebbs” than “flows”. Even when you think they might have the flow going an ebb seems to find a way to step in a overtake them.

When I get assigned to cover a game I make sure to get there a couple hours early so that I can set up a remote camera. I mount one on the basket stanchion or under the reporters table on the sideline. I do this for two reasons. One, to get an angle on the play for a different point of view. Or…

…when you’re point of view from the floor is completely obscured by either other players or a referee. When Roscoe Smith took the final shot against Syracuse last Saturday night that would have tied the game and likely put it into overtime, he drove the far side of the lane and was nowhere to be seen from my spot. But you fire the camera and hope that somewhere in the crowd you get a glimpse of him in case he makes the shot or, in this case, is rejected by C.J. Fair (wearing orange headband) with about 2.2 seconds on the game clock.

A quick preview of the play on my camera told me I didn’t have a clean shot so I hoped that my remote camera was working properly. With a 9pm start time and the game ending after eleven I needed to send a few game ending photos quickly to meet deadline.

This was the first image I sent because it had the two elements that best spoke about the outcome of the game. A dejected Ryan Boatright of UConn in the foreground while the Syracuse players congratulated C.J. Fair, #5, for his last second block. The Huskies had “flowed” back from a 14 point halftime deficit but in the end the game was taken over by yet another “ebb” and UConn fell 71-69. When I did get a chance to edit my remote camera I was pleasantly surprise with the result…

…I couldn’t have asked for a better shot to sum up the conclusion of the game than this image! The wide angle view gives a nice separation of the players, their faces watching the play and the entire arena on its feet hoping the shot falls pushing the game into OT. In the end it was just another gut wrenching loss for the team and their fans. Perhaps this team will live up to their pre-season billing – next year – if all these young players decide to return for a season of “flows’ instead of this seasons “ebbs”

 

Pro Tip: Preparation and pre-thought are good habits to have when covering an assignment, whether it is sports, a news event or an environmental portrait.

Camera – Nikon D300, 17-55mm lens set at 20mm, f/3.5, ISO 1250, shutter 1/640th, auto white balance. Pocket Wizard remote transceiver.

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UConn beats Villanova in Overtime

  • UConn's Shabazz Napier signals for three after making a buzzer-beater with less than a second left to lift the Huskies' 73-70 overtime win over Villanova at the Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia. Alex Oriakhi yells in celebration behind him.
  • UConn's Roscoe Smith puts his arm over Andre Drummond's shoulder during introductions before the game.
  • UConn's Jeremy Lamb tries to pull down a messy rebound during the first half of their basketball game against Villanova at the Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia. UConn missed 10 straight field goals in the first half and the game was tied at the half with 30 points.
  • It started out doubtful that UConn's Shabazz Napier would play in Thursday's game but within minutes of the first half, Coach Blaney had him taking off his warm-ups to head into the Huskies' 73-70 overtime win over Villanova at the Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia. Napier had a strained ligament in his right foot but ended up sinking a buzzer-beating three in OT to win the game.
  • UConn's Andre Drummond passes around Villanova forward Markus Kennedy in the first half.
  • UConn waits for an inbounds pass during the first half.
  • Villanova head coach Jay Wright argues a call in the first half.
  • UConn's Roscoe Smith, bottom left, and Andre Drummond, middle, guard Villanova forward Markus Kennedy during the first half.
  • UConn's Andre Drummond dunks over Villanova's Markus Kennedy, Tyrone Johnson and Mouphtaou Yarou during the first half.
  • UConn's Roscoe Smith shoots during the Huskies' 73-70 overtime win over Villanova at the Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia. Smith started and played an unusual 40 minutes in the game, contributing strong defense.
  • UConn's Andre Drummond puts one in over Villanova forward Markus Kennedy during the first half.
  • UConn's Ryan Boatright can't quite make the shot with Villanova forward JayVaughn Pinkston defending.
  • UConn's Alex Oriakhi hangs in limbo after being called for a charging foul on a dunk during the second half.
  • UConn's Roscoe Smith, Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb watch the Huskies slip behind again in the second half.
  • Villanova's bench goes insane as Roscoe Smith catches an in-bounds pass intended for Villanova forward JayVaughn Pinkston at mid-court, helping the Huskies to tie the score and eventually pull out a 73-70 overtime win.
  • UConn's bench goes crazy for Alex Oriakhi's shot against Villanova that tied the game at 60 with 23 seconds left.
  • UConn's Roscoe Smith and Alex Oriakhi block Villanova forward JayVaughn Pinkston.
  • UConn's Shabazz Napier is fouled by Villanova's Tyrone Johnson, with Dominic Cheek defending (right) during the Huskies' 73-70 win over Villanova in OT.
  • UConn's Ryan Boatright seems to make a flying leap over Villanova guard Tyrone Johnson.
  • UConn's bench reacts after an out-of-bounds ball is placed in their possession during OT as the Huskies beat Villanova 73-70 at the Wells Fargo Arena.
  • UConn's George Blaney took the reins again for Jim Calhoun and led the Huskies to a 73-70 win over Villanova in OT.
  • UConn's Jeremy Lamb shoots a free throw as he scores 10 points in OT during the Huskies' 73-70 win over Villanova.
  • UConn's DeAndre Daniels, Tyler Olander and Niels Giffey sit with locked arms, holding their breath during free-throws in OT.
  • Villanova scored with seconds left in OT to tie the score before Shabazz Napier put in a buzzer-beating three to lift the Huskies' 73-70  over the Wildcats.
  • UConn's Shabazz Napier gets a huge hug from Ryan Boatright and cheers from Alex Oriakhi and Roscoe Smith after sinking his buzzer-beating shot.
  • UConn's Shabazz Napier is greeted by fans with Alex Oriakhi in tow as the hero of the night. Napier sunk a three-point shot with 0.6 seconds showing on the clock to beat Villanova 73-70 in OT.

UConn started looking like UConn again last night as they pulled out some tricks to beat Villanova 73-70 in overtime, lifted by a last-second, almost 30-ft three by Shabazz Napier and career-high 32 points from Jeremy Lamb at the Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia. (click the ” i ” on the gallery for captions).

Read all about it in the game story from beat writer Dom Amore.