Brown, Spartans withdraw late to defeat No. 22 UConn 64-60
Paradise Island – AJ Hoggard made free throws with 30.3 seconds left, and Michigan State scored the last nine game points to overtake Connecticut’s No. 22 64-60 in the Battle 4 Atlantis semifinals on Thursday.
Gabe Brown scored 16 points for the Spartans (5-1), who blew a 14-point lead before the break and hit just 32 percent after the break.
But Michigan State did enough to regain momentum after Husky led 60-55 with 1:41 left and finally a place in Friday’s championship game.
It was another tense end for both teams after first-round games saw plenty of drama late in the game – including two extra spells for Husky in a 115-109 thumping win over No. 19 Auburn. But the Michigan State defense faced several crucial stops late , which resulted in the Huskies firing a 1 to 9 shot in the last three minutes.
The final came with all the strong (5-1) who got a chance to draw. But after a long period of dribbling, Jalen Gaffney managed to shoot an instantly tough 3 that didn’t hit everything.
Tyson Walker hit a crucial free throw with 2.5 seconds left to make it a two-way possession game, prompting the Spartans to jump into the tunnel and wave their arms all the way to their cheering fans behind the bench.
Adama Sonogo scored 18 points and had 10 rebounds to lead the Huskies, while Therese Martin added 16 points and 12 boards despite being unsure of play due to a left wrist sprain in Auburn’s win.
The Big Picture
Ocon: Wednesday’s 115-109 win over the Tigers was a thriller in March, but regrouping to play again in less than 24 hours was a huge challenge. It didn’t help that UConn didn’t have forward Isaiah Whaley, who sat down after fainting briefly after a 43-minute effort in the Auburn game. UConn missed 15 of the first 18 shots, then rebounded seven times before fading into 4:44 before fading out late.
Michigan State: Things weren’t easy for the Spartans in the first round either. They needed an alley flooding by Marcus Bingham Jr. with 3.4 seconds left to beat Loyola Chicago. This time, they overpowered a quick lead and then a surge of huskies for another tough win against the NCAA Championship team from last season.
UConn: The Huskies will play in a third-place playoff Friday against the losing VCU-Baylor.
Michigan State: The Spartans advance to Friday’s game to face the winner of the VCU-Baylor.
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