Walker's buzzer-beater lifts UConn past PittMar 11, 2011 - 6:53 AM New York, NY (Sports Network) - Kemba Walker's jumper at the buzzer sent 21st- ranked Connecticut past third-ranked Pittsburgh, 76-74, and into the semifinals of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden.
Ashton Gibbs drained a three-pointer that tied the game with 47.9 seconds left before Walker missed a pull-up jumper in the lane on the Huskies' ensuing trip down the floor. However, Connecticut maintained possession after an offensive rebound by Jamal Coombs-McDaniel with 18 seconds remaining.
Walker inbounded the ball and got it back, and on a defensive switch, was matched up with Pitt big man Gary McGhee. Walker brought the ball out beyond the three-point line at the top, drove left to the foul line and bounced back before launching the game-winner.
"It's special, especially because I missed a couple of shots before that one and my teammates had the confidence in me," Walker said about the game-winner. "They told me [to] take this last shot and win the game for us, and that's what I did. There is nothing like doing it in your hometown."
The junior guard, who hails from the Bronx, made only 8-of-22 shots but scored 24 points and added five rebounds and five assists for the Huskies (24-9), who had lost four of their last five regular season games before winning for a third straight day in the conference tourney.
Jeremy Lamb provided 17 points and Alex Oriakhi contributed 13 points and seven rebounds for the Huskies, who will meet Syracuse on Friday.
Gibbs made 10-of-13 shots, including 6-of-7 from long range, to produce a game-high 27 points while Brad Wanamaker supplied 17 points, five boards and four assists for the Panthers (27-5), who had ended the regular season with wins in eight of their last 10 games.
Following a Shabazz Napier trifecta, Oriakhi's follow-shot layup put UConn back in the lead at 61-60 with 8:21 to play. The Huskies had started to take advantage of McGhee being out of the lineup after picking up his fourth foul with 11:44 left and Pitt ahead 58-54.
UConn was able to pound the offensive glass and get multiple shots on a couple of subsequent possessions to take a 72-69 lead on two Napier foul shots with three minutes left, about a half-minute after McGhee returned to the floor.
After two Wanamaker foul shots cut the lead to one with 2:15 left, another Oriakhi putback pushed the lead to 74-71 with 62 ticks to go, setting up the end-game dramatics.
"Yes, I think so," Gibbs said when asked if it was a disappointing loss. "We talked about winning all three crowns. That's what we talked about all year, regular season, Big East and NCAA. We didn't get this one but it's extra motivation for the NCAA Tournament."
Gibbs and Nasir Robinson scored all eight points in a quick 8-0 burst that extended Pitt's lead to 20-8 just over six minutes into the game, and a Travon Woodall triple stretched the margin to 23-11 two minutes later.
UConn countered with a 16-4 surge to tie the game at 39 on an Oriakhi tip-in with 42 ticks to go before the break.
Walker hit 1-of-2 at the line to give the Huskies their first lead, 40-39, with six seconds left. Woodall beat the buzzer with a short runner in the lane to give Pitt a one-point advantage at the intermission.
Lamb made 6-of-9 from the floor and all five of his free throws...The Huskies made 21-of-25 at the line, including 8-of-9 by Walker...UConn converted 11 Pitt turnovers into 20 points while the Panthers could not produce any points off six Huskie miscues...Pitt shot 55 percent for the game, including 8- of-11 from beyond the arc...Robinson finished with 11 points while Gilbert Brown added nine in defeat.
- CONNECTICUT: 76
Mar 10 2:09 PM
- CONNECTICUT: 40
Mar 10 12:54 PM
- CONNECTICUT: 0
1st Half - 20:00
Mar 10 12:05 PM
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