Shaq Goodwin's jumper lift Memphis over UConn 54-53
STORRS, Conn. (AP) Memphis had lost two straight games and top scorer Austin Nichols to injury, but found a way to keep its slim NCAA Tournament hopes alive against UConn.
Shaq Goodwin hit a short fall-away jumper that rattled around the rim before falling with 8 seconds left to give the Tigers a 54-53 win over the defending national champions on the road Thursday.
Goodwin took a pass from Kedren Johnson at the top of the key, drove left and put the ball in the air with 10 seconds left. The next two seconds, he said, seemed like a lot more.
''I shot it and went straight for the rebound, because I didn't know what was going to happen,'' he said. ''I just shot it with confidence, and luckily it bounced in.''
UConn's Ryan Boatright, playing his final home game, missed an off balance shot just before the buzzer that would have given the win to the Huskies. The loss snapped a three-game win streak.
''I just didn't take a good shot,'' Boatright said. ''I ain't even going to make up an excuse. I could have got a better shot off than that.''
The win moves Memphis (18-12, 10-7 American) into tie with UConn (17-12, 10-7) for fifth place in the American Athletic Conference. The top five seeds get first-round byes in next week's AAC tournament and Memphis holds a tiebreaker over UConn after sweeping the season series.
''Coming off two losses, the sky is falling in Memphis, a lot of doubters coming into this week,'' said Memphis coach Josh Pastner. ''I'm very proud of our young men.''
Trashon Burrell led Memphis with 22 points. Johnson had 10 and Calvin Godfrey chipped in with eight points and 10 rebounds. Goodwin finished with eight points and eight rebounds.
Freshman guard Daniel Hamilton had 16 points for the Huskies and Boatright added 14 points.
Memphis held UConn to just 28 percent shooting, while shooting just under 40 percent from the floor.
The Tigers quickly quieted UConn's senior-night crowd by opening the game on a 16-4 run, highlighted by back-to-back emphatic dunks from Godfrey, the first coming on a lob pass from Avery Woodson.
The Tigers led by as many as 13 points at 22-9. But 10 blocked shots by UConn in the first half, six of them from 7-foot center Amida Brimah, helped the Huskies get back into the game. UConn closed the half on a 17-4 run over the last 9:40 to send the teams into intermission tied at 26.
Brimah finished with seven blocks, one shy of his career best.
The teams went back and forth in the second half. UConn led 48-44 with just over eight minutes left. That was the Huskies' largest lead and the biggest either team had after halftime.
UConn's final lead came at 53-52 on a Hamilton jumper. They were still leading when Memphis forced them into shot-clock violation with 31.6 seconds left, setting up the Tiger's final possession.
The game was very physical, but most of the foul calls went against Memphis (17-9). UConn shot 18 of 22 from the foul line, while the Tigers both of their two free throw attempts.
''This feels like a championship for us,'' said Burrell. ''To pull this one out at UConn, it's a big one for us.''
UConn: The Huskies have not had a winning streak longer than three games this season. They won their first three games of the season, and also had a three-game winning streak at the start of January.
The Huskies honored Boatright and little-used senior Pat Lenehan in his final home game. Lenehan who was a Rhodes Scholarship finalist and is currently deciding among several medical school to which he has been accepted, including Hartford, Duke, Johns Hopkins and Columbia.
Memphis: The Tigers improved to 4-0 against defending national champions under Josh Pastner
PLAYING DOWN: Nichols is expected to be out at least two weeks after re-injuring his right ankle Saturday against Tulsa. He scored 16 points in the first meeting between the two teams, a 75-72 Memphis win.
UConn: The Huskies finish the regular season on the road at Temple on Saturday
Memphis: The Tigers also finish on the road at Cincinnati on Sunday before returning to Connecticut for the AAC Tournament, which opens next Thursday at the XL Center in Hartford.