October 30, 2012
Every loss stings, and some are more memorable than others -- for the circumstances, the level of play, how it unfolded, the disappointment, even the pride in the effort put forth. Even for a coach as successful as Jim Calhoun. Here are some of the more memorable during his career:
March 26, 2006 — George Mason 86, UConn 84 (OT), NCAA Tournament East Regional final, Washington:
If Calhoun could change the result of any game, this would be it. The Huskies, a No.1 seed with five NBA draft picks as starters, raced to an 11-point lead that was cut to eight on a late three-point play by the Patriots before halftime. In the second half, George Mason finished off one of the great upsets in recent NCAA Tournament history. Denham Brown tied it with a driving layup as regulation ended, but the Huskies, given fits on the perimeter by a host of smaller, quick guards, could not come up with another answer in overtime. Brown's step-back three as time expired was no good and George Mason, seeded 11th, finished off its improbable run to the Final Four.
March 24, 1990 — Duke 79, UConn 78 (OT), NCAA Tournament East Regional final, East Rutherford, N.J.:
Live at the buzzer, die at the buzzer. Two days after Tate George hit The Shot to beat Clemson in the Sweet 16, Christian Laettner took an inbound pass with 2.6 seconds left and ended UConn's Dream Season with his own buzzer-beater. UConn trailed by seven at halftime and the lead changed eight times in the second half and six times in overtime. George had a chance to secure the victory when he nearly picked off a pass by Bobby Hurley, but the ball rolled off his fingers and out of bounds, leaving Duke with one final play.
March 12, 2009 — Syracuse 127, UConn 117 (6 OT), Big East tournament quarterfinal, New York:
This epic was the ultimate battle of will and stamina. UConn didn't trail in the first five overtimes, but Syracuse took control in the sixth. The game lasted 3 hours, 46 minutes and was one of only four in history to last at least six overtimes. Only one has gone seven. Jonny Flynn had 34 points and 11 assists, and was 16-for-16 on free throws, in 67 minutes for Syracuse. A.J. Price led UConn with 33 points and 10 assists in 61 minutes.
March 25, 1994 — Florida 69, UConn 60 (OT), , NCAA Tournament East Regional semifinal, Miami:
UConn led by 10 in the second half but scored just three points over the final seven-plus minutes The Huskies still appeared to have it wrapped up when Donyell Marshall went to the free throw line with the score tied and 3.4 seconds left. A 75 percent free throw shooter, he had gone 20-for-20 from the line against St. John's earlier in the season. But he missed both, and the Gators took control in overtime as UConn was denied its first berth in the Elite Eight since the Dream Season of 1989-90. Jim Calhoun was beginning to inch his way toward the dubious label of "best coach to never reach a Final Four."
Jan. 20, 2003 — Miami 77, UConn 76, Miami:
This was Darius Rice's day. There was no better player on the court. Still, UConn was on the way to leaving Miami with a victory, and probably should have. But in a stunning last-second play, Rice stole an inbound pass from Shamon Tooles and hit a three-pointer as time expired, giving him 43 points and UConn a gut-wrenching loss. Ben Gordon scored 32 for UConn, the last coming on two free throws with 8.9 seconds left for a four-point lead. But after Armondo Surratt drove for a layup, Rice got the ball one last time in the right corner and stole a victory.
April 4, 2009 — Michigan State 82, UConn 73, NCAA Tournament national semifinal, Detroit:
Come this far and the loss is going to sting -- even if the strides made to reach this point add up to one of UConn's best seasons. The Huskies won 31 games and advanced to the Final Four for the third time. There, they met Michigan State -- and about 72,000 of the Spartans' friends. MSU had an overwhelming home court advantage at Ford Field. The Huskies led 44-40 and 49-47 before the Spartans went on a 15-5 run and didn't trail again. UConn trailed by as many as 11, cut the deficit to three, but MSU sealed it with free throws.
March 24, 2002 — Maryland 90, UConn 82, NCAA Tournament East Regional final, Syracuse, N.Y.:
This is one of those losses UConn can feel good about. Caron Butler put on one of the best individual performances in school history, scoring 26 of his 32 points in the second half to help UConn keep pace with Juan Dixon and the eventual national champions. Only Richard Hamilton (28) has scored more in a half for UConn, but that came in an early-season game against Fairfield in 1997, not the Elite Eight. Butler also had seven rebounds and four assists. There were eight ties and seven lead changes in the final 12 minutes, which featured artful, pulse-racing basketball.
March 25, 1995 — UCLA 102, UConn 96, NCAA Tournament West Regional final, Oakland, Calif.:
UConn might have been the second-best team in the nation, but that didn't land the Huskies in the Final Four. They ran into the best, eventual champion UCLA, in the Elite Eight and lost a game played at blinding speed. Ray Allen's career-high 36 points opened a nation's eyes to his potential, but it wasn't enough for the Huskies to keep up with Tyus Edney and Co. "If we had to go down -- and none of us wanted to -- we went down to the best team we've played," Jim Calhoun said.
March 22, 1996 — Mississippi State 60, UConn 55, NCAA Tournament Southeast Regional semifinal, Lexington, Ky.:
UConn was the Big East regular season champion (30-2 regular season, 17-1 conference), the Big East tournament champion and a No.1 seed. The Huskies won 23 in a row at one point and were still trying to reach their first Final Four, but Darryl Wilson led the fifth-seeded Bulldogs with 27 points, making 7 of 11 three-pointers. The Huskies trailed by 14 with 6:50 left but cut the lead to three in the final minute. UConn shot a season-low 32.4 percent. Ray Allen had 22 points in the final game of his UConn career.
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