Behind a late-second-half rally and a dominant overtime, No. 7 seed UConn knocked off No. 10 seed St. Joseph's 89-81 in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Shabazz Napier was UConn's go-to guy, taking 22 shots on the day. He was only able to connect on seven of them, but still came away with 24 points. He did most of his damage during the overtime period and made all eight of his free throws.
Free-throw shooting was one of the biggest contributing factors to the Huskies' come-from-behind win. Connecticut shot an impressive 90 percent from the foul line as a team, connecting on 18 of its 20 attempts.
Four of the Huskies' five starters reached double-digit points on Thursday night.
The Hawks showcased their depth, as all five of their starters finished the game with double-digit points. Forward Ronald Roberts Jr. was stellar on both sides of the court—recording 15 points and 10 rebounds—with the game's only double-double.
Roberts' performance did not go unnoticed:
Ronald Roberts for St Joe's gets off of the ground a bit like my guy Antonio McDyess used to do. Crazy bounce.— Rex Chapman (@rexchapman) March 20, 2014
Langston Galloway was tremendous as well, scoring a game-high 25 points and shooting eight of 13 from the field. His first-half performance allowed the Hawks to get into great position early:
10-seed St. Joe’s takes a 40-35 lead over 7-seed UConn into half. Langston Galloway leads all scorers with 12. #MarchMadness— ESPN College BBall (@ESPNCBB) March 20, 2014
St. Joseph's was on point as a team, hitting 50 percent of its shots from the field for the game.
The Hawks began the game in blazing fashion, getting out to a 10-point lead in the waning minutes of the first half. However, the Huskies were resurgent and narrowed the lead to five points at halftime.
St. Joseph's looked great in the first half from the field:
Saint Joseph's shot 56% in the first half against UConn pic.twitter.com/gdqk98CHMP— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 20, 2014
Connecticut, however, continued its surge into the second half. The team made better decisions and took better looks from the floor, improving its overall shooting from the field. Defense played a huge part as well, as the Huskies clamped down on the Hawks' perimeter shooting.
Amida Brimah's three-point play tied the game at 70 with 39 seconds left, and that was the score to begin overtime.
Connecticut got out to a quick start in the extra period, as a three-point play put it up 73-70. Galloway tied it back up with a three-pointer.
Twitter was chock full of anticipation for the game's outcome following that great shot:
Napier was fantastic in overtime for the Huskies, building a seven-point lead with just one minute left to play. His dazzling overtime performance was expected:
Shabazz Napier is shooting 63% from field, 72% from 3-point range in OT over last 3 seasons— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 21, 2014
The Huskies were great from the foul line in overtime, and their clutch shooting wouldn't allow St. Joseph's to pull close.
Hawks head coach Phil Martelli spoke highly of Galloway in a postgame press conference, according to a tweet from Adam Zagoria of NBA.com:
'He's on that list as an all-time person...I dont know if we've ever had a player more proud to wear the uniform.' Martelli on Galloway— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) March 21, 2014
In a classy move, Napier walked over to Roberts and Galloway at the end of the game to console his opponents. He gave his reasoning in a press conference, according to a tweet from Adam Zagoria:
Napier: 'I'm passionate and I saw it in their eyes...I just wanted to show them respect basically.' Shabazz on consoling Roberts & Galloway— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) March 21, 2014
It was a bitter ending for the Hawks:
St Joes eliminated from their 1st tournament appearance since 2008— Jeff Skversky (@JeffSkversky) March 21, 2014
The Hawks will head home early, but the Huskies will move on to the round of 32. Connecticut has a great chance to ride its late-game surge into another tournament victory. The Huskies are set to play the winner of No. 2 Villanova and No. 15 Milwaukee.
Napier is up to the challenge. He spoke of the "any given day" concept of March Madness in a postgame press conference, according to a tweet from UConn beat writer William Paxton:
Napier: "That's what these games are all about. Any team on any given day can beat a big team." #UConn— William Paxton (@wspaxton) March 21, 2014
Only time will tell how far this Connecticut team can go.