UConn Ends Fogler's S.C. Run

A fire fighting helicopter passes over a raging wildfire as it approaches the town of Avalon on Catalina Island , Calif., Thursday, May 10, 2007. At least 160 firefighters, aided by four water-dropping helicopters and three retardant-dropping air tankers, battled the flames.
AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian
There were handshakes and hugs all around in Eddie Fogler's final game as South Carolina's coach.

Connecticut (20-11) ended Fogler's run at South Carolina on Wednesday night, beating the Gamecocks 72-65 in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament. Fogler announced his resignation two days earlier when the school did not extend his contract.

"I wanted our kids to have fun and play hard. Win and we go on. Lose, we lose," Fogler said. "I think they played hard and had fun."

The Gamecocks (15-15) played the Huskies tight until the final four minutes when UConn closed with a 13-6 run.

Edmund Saunders led the Huskies with 15 points, 11 rebounds and made key defensive plays in the closing moments. Saunders is one of three seniors who were members of UConn's 1999 national championship team.

"I want to go out with a bang, get as many wins as I can," said Saunders. "I'm kind of spoiled and we're used to getting 20 wins a season. So we got our 20th win today and we just have to keep going."

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  • The Huskies (20-11) will play Detroit in the second round. Detroit advanced with a 68-49 win over Bradley.

    UConn has appeared in 11 NITs and won the tournament in 1988 in coach Jim Calhoun's second season.

    "We kept saying to the kids during time outs `it's a 32 team field and there's a championship to be won,' " Calhoun said. "It is not the one we aspire for, but right now it is the only one."

    Caron Butler had 14 points and seven rebounds for the Huskies, who outrebounded the Gamecocks 38-25.

    Jamel Bradley had 19 points and was 6-of-9 from 3-point range for South Carolina.

    Butler's jumper with 3:52 left snapped a 59-all tie and was the 26th lead change of the game. Afer a South Carolina turnover, Saunders finished off a UConn fast break with a reverse hook to put the Huskies up 63-61.

    UConn's Taliek Brown was then fouled as he fielded a defensive rebound and hit both ends of a 1-on-1, giving the Huskies a 65-59 lead with 2:49 remaining.

    Aaron Lucas went to the line for the Gamecocks with 2:28 left, missed the first shot of a 1-on-1 and Saunders came down with the rebound. The possession resulted in a 3-pointer from Albert Mouring as the Huskies outscored the Gamecocks 7-6 the rest of the way.

    The game was played at the usually raucous 10,000-seat Gampel Pavilion, but on Wednesday there were just 3,200 fans.

    "Usually the crows is like our sixth man and they always boost us, but they did an excellent job with that. And about the 4-minute mark, they got us back where we needed to be," Butler said.

    Saunders had three points in a 10-3 UConn run to give the Huskies a 25-20 lead with 9:39 left in the first. But the edge quickly disappeared as five UConn turnovers over the next three minutes resulted in a 14-7 South Carolina run.

    Bradley hit three 3-pointers in that spurt and the Gamecocks took a 35-32 lead at the break.

    Marius Petravicius added 15 points for South Carolina.

    Fogler, 52, finishes his career at South Carolina with a 123-117 record. He took over the Gamecocks after winning coach if the year honors at Vanderbilt. Fogler has taken three teams to the NCAA tournament - Wichita State (1987-88), Vanderbilt (1991, 1993), South Carolina (1997-98).

    The Gamecocks have lost seven of their last nine games. Fogler said he doesn't he doesn't expect to be back in college ball.

    "It is very difficult with college athletics being the way it is today and the pressures. You are darned if you do, darned if you don't," Fogler said. "I'm leaving college basketball with my dignity, my integrity and my sanity."

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