San Diego
70 - 69 Final - OT
  for this game

Jackson's jumper lifts San Diego to upset of UConn

Mar 22, 2008 - 1:02 AM
TAMPA, Florida (Ticker) -- De'Jon Jackson and San Diego picked up their first NCAA Tournament win. It also was a first for Connecticut and veteran coach Jim Calhoun.

Jackson sank a jumper with 1.2 seconds remaining in overtime Friday, lifting 13th-seeded San Diego to a 70-69 upset of the No. 4 Huskies in the first round of the West Regional.

"If you're UConn, they're a historical program," Toreros guard Brandon Johnson said. "This is our first time in the tournament, we're young. That's just a natural attitude to overlook us."

Jackson received the in-bounds pass with 5.2 seconds left, dribbled to the right wing and drained an 18-foot fadeaway shot over the outstretched arm of Connecticut's Stanley Robinson.

"That's the way coach drew the play up for me, to come off the double (screen)," Jackson said. "And while I was under the rim, I think it was Rob (Jones) who said, (the defender is) coming out the top. I was like dang, ain't no play, so I was like whatever, I'll just do it.

"So I went off the double and saw the opening, and coach said, 'Just drive it to the right.' I drove it to the right, stepped back and it went in."

Gyno Pomare scored 22 points to pace the Toreros (22-13), who will move on to the second round for the first time in school history to face 12th-seeded Western Kentucky on Saturday.

"It's great for our league that we won but, bigger than that, I think it's great for our university," San Diego coach Bill Grier said. "To never have won a game in the NCAA Tournament, I'm really excited for our university, the community of San Diego."

He praised the laid-back city for getting behind his squad.

"It's been great these last couple of weeks to see a city that has so much going on because of the great weather, and those kind of things," Grier said. "And it's tough in Southern California to get interest on a regular basis.

"But to see the buzz that's been around this campus, and this community the last couple of weeks, has been unbelievable. Although, it's great for our league, it's really great for our school. I'm excited for the university."

It also was the first first-round loss for the Huskies under Calhoun, who was 14-0 in games to start the tournament while turning the program into a national power over the last two decades.

"It's not a very good feeling, I can tell you that right now," Calhoun said. "We like to think it wouldn't happen again. Because quite frankly, we're a four seed for a reason of what we accomplished. We didn't play like a four seed, yet we had a very, very good season."

However, Calhoun admitted that he had experienced the anguish of a first-round loss prior to arriving at UConn.

"I have done it at Northeastern, but last time was against Illinois," he said. "And the year was, I believe, 1985 or '86 or something like that. So, it's been 20-something years since this has happened to us."

But it wasn't the only tough setback Friday for the Huskies (24-9), who played the majority of the game without injured star point guard A.J. Price. Price was carried off the court after injuring his knee.

"They're looking at the ACL. I am really concerned about A.J," Calhoun said. "I mean, obviously you don't like to see a kid go down, particularly with all the things that he's been through and the comeback he's made to have something like that happen.

"I'm sure that in his dreams when he was in ICU or coming out of some of the things that he's come out of, and then to go down early in an NCAA Tournament game, I feel very badly for him certainly."

But the veteran coach wasn't going to blame the defeat on the injury to Price, who has been one of the best floor generals in the country this season.

"Obviously, it was done early in the game and it certainly affected our offense," he said. "But it didn't have a lick to do with our 48 percent field-goal percentage defense."

Jerome Dyson added 14 points and made several key free throws down the stretch for the Huskies, who erased an 11-point second-half deficit to send the game to the extra period.

Johnson finished with 18 points for San Diego and drilled a jumper with 1:45 remaining in overtime to give the Toreros a 66-63 lead.

The Huskies grabbed a 67-66 advantage 50 seconds later courtesy of a pair of layups sandwiched around a turnover by San Diego, which regained a one-point lead on Jones' layup.

However, Jones missed an opportunity to convert a three-point play - allowing UConn to take a 69-68 lead on Dyson's two free throws with nine seconds left.

That proved to be plenty of time for Jackson, who propelled the Toreros to the biggest upset of the tournament so far by making just his second basket of the day. A sophomore, Jackson finished with four points on just 2-of-11 shooting.

San Diego could have won the game in regulation, but UConn erased a four-point deficit over a 35-second stretch to force overtime.

Hasheem Thabeet and Adrien made layups on consecutive possessions, trimming the Huskies' deficit to 59-58 with 24 seconds left in regulation.

Devin Ginty - a non-scholarship player - made 1-of-2 free throws just seven seconds later, pushing San Diego's lead to 60-58.

"I believe he needs a scholarship, but if it don't happen, I'll try to start a little charity for a scholarship," Johnson said.

But UConn tied the contest when Dyson made a pair of free throws with 10 seconds left, setting up Jackson's heroics in overtime.

"In high school, I (hit a game-winning shot) from half-court, and it was to go to the championship," Jackson said. "But this is on a way bigger stage. So, this feeling right now, I can't even explain right now. It's like the best feeling I've ever had in my life. It's a good feeling."

The Huskies took a major hit just 10 minutes into the contest when Price, a first-team All-Big East Conference selection, suffered a sprained left knee and was forced to leave the game.

Price suffered the injury while leaving his feet for a running jumper with 9:45 remaining in the first half. The junior laid on the floor under the basket for several minutes before being carried off the floor by two teammates.

Price was taken to the locker room for preliminary X-rays and was initially diagnosed with the sprain. He returned to the court minutes later on crutches with a bag of ice wrapped around his knee.

"I made a tough move to the basket and, as I was pushing off to go up, I just felt everything go wrong in my knee," Price said. "I took the pressure off of it as fast as I could.

"I was thinking about giving it a go, at one point I felt like I could, but when I did some warm up stuff in the locker room, I just didn't think I could go. I'll have an MRI (Friday night) to see what the story is."