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UConn Pulls Off Another Upset, Beating Tulsa 47-42

The Huskies will face the SMU Mustangs in the final round of the American tournament.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports


HARTFORD — It was a miracle at the XL Center as UConn’s Rodney Purvis sunk a big-time jumper to give the Huskies the lead with seconds remaining, and senior Ryan Boatright iced the game at the free throw line to win it 47-42 and advance to the championship game of the American Athletic Conference Tournament.

“Kind of at a loss for words, but one word that comes to mind is heart, and these guys just played with heart,” UConn head coach Kevin Ollie said.

Shooting droughts, fatigue and a series of frustrating calls battled against the Huskies all game, and it looked as if they were going to bow out earlier than they had expected.

But this team fought back.

The Huskies were down by nine until Phil Nolan sparked the offense with a quick basket inside. Purvis followed with a made drive to the hoop, and a struggling Daniel Hamilton hit his first shot of the night- a three-pointer that cut the Tulsa lead to three points.

Again, the ball was in Boatright’s hands with the clock winding down, and he hit a three in the corner to tie the game at 41. After putting Tulsa at the line to hit 1-2 free throws, Purvis made his move and scored his most important this season to give the Huskies the 43-42 edge.

In desperation, Tulsa fouled Boatright, who finished the night with 21 points and 6 rebounds, multiple times to finally put him at the line for two separate one-and-one attempts.

He made all four, and again sealed his team’s fate to survive another day and move on to play SMU in the conference championship game.

Miracle is not a term used lightly in regards to this game. UConn couldn’t get its offense going early and ended the first half with only 19 points. They were being outrebounded by Tulsa 25-10 and getting killed on second chance points.

The second half wasn’t much easier. Tulsa went on a run that had them up by ten with six minutes left in the game. Offense, again, was nonexistent and Hamilton faced a shooting rut that was unfamiliar to him in this conference tournament so far.

“All our guys kept believing, and we believe in Daniel,” Ollie said. “He does so many other things on the court and he keeps believing in himself.”

The Huskies were tired. After all, three games in three days is no easy feat for any team. Everyone on the team stepped up as the clock wound down and a very rude awakening descended on the Huskies as they realized their season could end on this night.

“We feel, not the pressure, but we feel the opportunity,” Ollie said. “When I got soldiers like this beside me, we can’t lose.”

Purvis, Boatright and the Huskies’ defense were the “soldiers” who would not let that happen as they did all of the little things right in the closing seconds of the game behind the energy of a roaring crowd in Hartford.

Despite Hamilton’s shooting woes, he finished the game with a crucial 12 rebounds. Amida Brimah gave the Huskies a huge contribution on the defensive end finishing with five blocks, and when he was on the bench freshman Rakim Lubin stepped in and gave the defense some encouragement and energy when they were down. Purvis finished the game with 11 points and Omar Calhoun chipped in six points off the bench.

Now the Huskies will face the SMU Mustangs in the final round of the American tournament. The title of conference champion and a tournament bid are on the line for this team, and after the way they pushed through tonight’s game, anything is possible as they head into their matchup with the number one team in the conference.

“It’s kill or be killed, simple as that,” Boatright said. “When you get to the post-season, it’s one loss and you’re done. So I just trust in my teammates, my teammates trust in us, and we trust in the coaching staff, and we go out there and we fight every day for each other.”

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