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UConn Ends Gonzaga's Run


Finally, barely, Connecticut is in the Final Four.

Gonzaga 's NCAA tournament magic disappeared in the frantic final few minutes Saturday against the Huskies' relentless defense and strength on the offensive boards as the Big East champions pulled out a 67-62 victory.

Connecticut's All-American, Richard Hamilton, scored 21 points and Khalid El-Amin gained redemption after a horrendous 0-for-12 shooting game to make two free throws with 34.4 seconds remaining.

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  • Kevin Freeman, who had 13 points and 15 rebounds, iced it with two free throws with 6.2 seconds to play.

    "We didn't play our great game," Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said, "but we played our heart game."

    Connecticut (32-2), the No. 1 seed in the West, was a much-publicized 0-3 in regional finals under Calhoun in the 1990s. After it was finished, the players doused their coach with water and the Husky fans chanted "Final Four! Final Four!"

    "All those teams before, I loved them, and I love this team," Calhoun said. "I can smile a lot."

    It was never easy against the scrappy Zags (28-7), who never trailed by more than six points despite an ugly shooting day from Matt Santangelo (1-for-9) and Richie Frahm (2-for-11).

    When Jake Voskuhl scored inside on a pass from Richard Hamilton to put the Huskies ahead 63-59 with just over a minute remaining, the Zags looked finished for good.

    Nothing came easy for Khalid El-Amin or the Huskies.
    Nothing came easy for Khalid El-Amin or the Huskies. (AP)

    But Queintin Hall, Gonzaga's Bahamian point guard who had 18 points and eight rebounds, threw in a one-handed 3-pointer with Hamilton all over him to cut the lead to 63-62 with 36.6 seconds to go. Hall fouled El-Amin on the inbounds play, and the beleaguered Connecticut point guard sank two free throws to stretch it back to a three-point lead.

    The Bulldogs, just 5-for-21 from 3-point range after shooting 51 percent from behind the line the first three tournament games, turned down a long, game-tying try in favor of going inside. When Santangelo missed one last time on a drive, Freeman grabbed the rebound, Hall fouled him, and the Zags amazing run was over.

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