Two teams came to Buffalo, New York on a business trip Thursday night when the tenth seeded Saint Joseph's Hawks were set to tangle with the seventh seeded Connecticut Huskies. St. Joe's came into Thursday looking to keep momentum from their Atlantic 10 Championship run last week and were motivated by a potential rematch with Philadelphia rival Villanova, who beat the Hawks by 30 points earlier this year.
UConn came in with a little different source of motivation since the Huskies were forced to sit out the tournament last year due to APR issues. Seniors like Shabazz Napier had to come to Buffalo to advantage at one big shot at the NCAA Tournament. Certainly Kevin Ollie's squad was motivated a bit too by being under-seeded in many peoples mind and
Both teams came out on fire to start the game, especially Langston Galloway who had his Hawks leading 18-16 thanks to his 8 early points with 10:56 left. The Hawks hot shooting continued throughout the half as they took a 40-35 thanks to 56% from the field. Galloway finished with 12 while DeAndre Bembry added 11 and Ronald Roberts Jr. had 10. Halil Kanacevic only had 3 points in the first half but the point forward was a critical player for the Hawks with 4 assists and 4 rebounds.
The second half was just as good as the first as UConn took the lead with just under ten minutes to play and still held a one point advantage at the under eight minute media timeout. St. Joe's responded right out of that timeout with a monster slam dunk from Kanacevic to move the Hawks back in front by one point. The dunk spurred an 8-2 run from the Hawks and forced Kevin Ollie to take a timeout with 5:11 left down 64-59.
UConn battled back and regained the lead 67-66 left thanks to a three pointer from DeAndre Daniels. A Chris Wilson nailed a floater and then converted two more points at the line after a Napier turnover that allowed the Hawks to build a 70-67 lead with 49 seconds left
Amida Brimah then became the hero for the moment for UConn when he converted an old fashion three point play after a Napier miss to tie the game with 39.8 seconds remaining. St. Joe's took the ball with a three second separation from the shot clock. and Langston Galloway failed to get a shot off and was charged with a shot clock violation. Napier failed to hit a runner as time expired as everyone held their breath in Buffalo. The miss from Galloway and Napier sent the game to overtime with a 70-70 stalemate.
St. Joe's was hit with an immediate blow in overtime when Daniels converted another three point play at the free throw line and also fouled out Kanacevic, who finished the game with 12 points, 7 boards, and 5 assists. After some crucial missed possessions from St. Joe's, Napier hit a dagger for UConn when he ht a one handed floater and converted a free throw to go up 80-73 with 80 seconds left. That sequence would signal the slow in for St. Joe's as the Hawks fell 89-81.
Shabazz Napier ended up leading the Huskies in scoring, rebounding, and assists with 24 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists. Daniels finished with 18 points, while Ryan Boatwright had 17 points. Langston Galloway finished with 25 points for the Hawks.
UConn will now await the winner of Villanova versus Milwaukee for their Saturday match up.