Syracuse bolsters dance bid, upends UConn in OT

NEW YORK (AP) -- Gerry McNamara waited one day to one-up himself.

The senior guard hit a 3-pointer with less than a second to play

to give Syracuse a win over Cincinnati in the opening round of the

Big East tournament.

On Thursday, his 3 with 5.5 seconds left in regulation tied the

game and the ninth-seeded Orange went on to beat No. 1 Connecticut

86-84 in overtime.

"I said yesterday's shot was the best under the

circumstances," an exhausted McNamara said Thursday. "I'd have to

change that to today's. We needed it."

The win should help the Orange (21-11) end any talk about

whether they deserve an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

"Obviously they're a tournament team," Connecticut coach Jim

Calhoun said. "I thought they were a tournament team yesterday."

That was a McNamara highlight show ago.

On Wednesday, his running 3 with less than a second to play

meant a 74-73 victory over Cincinnati.

He topped that performance in the quarterfinals by scoring 17

points and handing out 13 assists, one short of the tournament


"He amazes me every time I see him play. He has more guts than

anybody I've ever coached," said Syracuse's Jim Boeheim, who

apologized for using profanity in defending McNamara on Wednesday

after local media reported the player was overrated. "As soon as

he released it, there was never a doubt. There was nothing but net.

"I'd say it's one of the best wins, if not the best, Syracuse

has ever had."

The loss shouldn't affect the No. 1 seed expected to go to

Connecticut (27-3), but it ended a 10-game winning streak in the

Big East quarterfinals for the Huskies, the regular-season

co-champions with Villanova.

"It certainly was one of the most disappointing losses we've

had in an awful long time," Calhoun said. "We came out flat as

heck. Just as we thought, that shot [yesterday] carried their

momentum right into today."

Syracuse, the defending champions in this tournament, will play

No. 23 Georgetown, which beat Marquette 62-59, in Friday night's

semifinals. It will be the 12th time the schools have met in the

tournament with Georgetown leading 6-5. Five of the meetings came

in championship games with Georgetown winnning four.

The Orange, who lost twice to Connecticut during the season, led

39-28 at halftime and a 3 by McNamara extended the lead to 49-35

with 16:43 to go. The Huskies, who trailed 10-0 just 2:30 into the

game, started chipping away and were within 62-56 with 7:24 to


McNamara hit a 3 to restore the lead to nine points, but

Connecticut tied the game with a 9-0 run capped by four free throws

by Hilton Armstrong.

Rashad Anderson's 3-pointer with 32 seconds left in regulation

gave Connecticut the lead for the first time, 72-71.

Josh Wright missed a shot with 12 seconds left -- McNamara could

be heard complaining he didn't touch the ball on the possession --

and Denham Brown made two free throws with 11 seconds left to make

it 74-71.

McNamara took the inbound pass -- something Calhoun had implored

his team to not let happen -- and he dribbled to just outside the

3-point line and drilled his third 3 of the game to tie it.

Marcus Williams of Connecticut missed a jumper from the

free-throw line as time expired.

"I can't remember the last time we were up three with 11

seconds to go and lost," Calhoun said. "We got beat by that shot

by Gerry. Anything can happen in overtime. We made the decision of

who would have the assignment. Gerry made a better play and hit a

great 3."

Syracuse took the lead for good at 79-78 on Darryl Watkins'

three-point play with 3:20 to go. Demetris Nichols and McNamara

each made two free throws to extend the lead to five points, but

Brown hit a 3 with 28 seconds left.

Watkins, a 50 percent free throw shooter, made two 2 seconds

later and Brown hit another 3 with 18 seconds left to make it


McNamara, a 91 percent free throw shooter who was 7-for-7 at

that point of the game, then made one of two with 17 seconds to go

and the Huskies still had a chance. Williams' jumper from the foul

line with 9 seconds left rattled in and out and the ball was tied

up, with possession going to Connecticut. Williams had another

jumper at the buzzer but it bounced off the rim.

"When Connecticut caught us, and they caught us a lot, we kept

going," Boeheim said. "Gerry wouldn't let it get away. He was

playing on half a leg today. He's got more guts than anybody I've

ever coached."

While his teammates started celebrating on the court, McNamara

stood off by himself looking exhausted after playing 41 minutes.

Terrence Roberts ran over and picked him up. McNamara then fell

into his teammates' arms rather than hugging them.

"I didn't have much left," McNamara said. "I gave what I


Nichols also had 17 points for Syracuse, which had five starters

in double figures. Roberts had 16, Watkins 14 and Eric Devendorf


Brown had 20 points for the Huskies, while Williams had 17

points and 11 assists. Armstrong added 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Calhoun said the team would leave for campus right away rather

than spend the night in New York.

"I'm a big fan of the Big East but I won't watch the games on

TV on Friday and Saturday," Calhoun said. "It would hurt too