UConn finishes five-day run

WINNER: Isaiah Thomas launches a buzzer-beater over Arizona’s Lamont Jones, giving Washington a Pac-10 title.

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WINNER: Isaiah Thomas launches a buzzer-beater over Arizona’s Lamont Jones, giving Washington a Pac-10 title.

NEW YORK — Kemba Walker capped the best five days an individual and team may have ever had in college basketball, scoring 19 to lead No. 21 Connecticut to a 69-66 victory over No. 14 Louisville in the Big East championship on Saturday night.

Walker, a 6-foot-1 junior guard, took home the most obvious MVP award in any conference tournament after leading the ninth-seeded Huskies (26-9) to five wins in as many days — the last four over ranked teams — and the program's seventh conference title, tying Georgetown for the most in Big East history.

He finished the five games with 130 points, 46 more than the previous record. And he grabbed several big rebounds and had numerous key passes and clutch steals, all while exhibiting leadership good enough to take a team loaded with sophomores and freshmen to the championship.

Preston Knowles had 18 points for the third-seeded Cardinals (25-8). His 3-pointer at the buzzer bounced off the rim.

Huskies beat buzzer

LOS ANGELES — With the score tied and 19 seconds left, Washington coach Lorenzo Romar was thinking timeout. Isaiah Thomas was thinking basket.

Thomas' instinct won out. The speedy guard tore up the court and hit a fadeaway jumper at the buzzer, lifting Washington past No. 16 Arizona 77-75 for the Pac-10 tournament champion­ship in the first overtime title game in league history.

"I knew I had a smaller guy on me, so I could get a shot off, and I just made a little step back and God made the ball go in the hoop," said Thomas, whose first name follows the biblical spelling.

Thomas scored 19 of his 28 in the first half, and freshman Terrence Ross added 16 for the third-seeded Huskies (23-10), who defended their title and earned the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Pac-10 player of the year Derrick Williams had 24 points and 11 rebounds for the top-seeded Wildcats (27-7), who won the regular-season title.

Penn State in final

INDIANAPOLIS — Talor Battle scored 17 of his 25 in the second half to help sixth-seeded Penn State (19-13) defeat Michigan State 61-48 and advance to the Big Ten tournament final for the first time.

Battle made six 3-pointers, four during a 2:35 stretch in the second half that put the Nittany Lions in control for good.

"I thought Michigan State played pretty good defense," Battle said. "Not to sound cocky by any means, but I was just zoned in."

Penn State faces top-ranked Ohio State (31-2), which boosted its bid for the NCAA Tournament's top overall seed with a 68-61 win over Michigan.

NO. 2 KANSAS 85, NO. 10 TEXAS 73: Tyshawn Taylor and Marcus Morris sparked a quick start by the top-seeded Jayhawks (32-2), who routed the Longhorns (27-7) to win the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City, Mo., and avenge a January loss that snapped their team-record 69-game home winning streak.

NO. 7 SAN DIEGO ST. 72, NO. 8 BYU 54: Billy White had 21 points, 12 rebounds and five steals and bedeviled national scoring leader Jimmer Fredette in leading the Aztecs (32-2) past the Cougars (30-4) in Las Vegas for the Mountain West title. Second-seeded San Diego State's losses were both to top seed BYU.

RICHMOND 58, NO. 24 TEMPLE 54: Kevin Anderson had 22 points for the third-seeded Spiders (26-7), who beat the three-time defending champion Owls (25-7) in Atlantic City, N.J. Richmond faces ninth-seeded Dayton (22-12), which advanced to the championship game for the first time since 2004 with a 64-61 victory over Saint Joseph's.

AMERICA EAST: John Holland hit two free throws with 2.4 seconds left to cap a 27-point performance and lift second-seeded Boston University (21-13) into the NCAA Tournament with a 56-54 win over Stony Brook in Boston.

BIG WEST: Orlando Johnson had 23 points to lead fourth-seeded UC Santa Barbara (18-13) to a 64-56 win over top-seeded Long Beach State in Anaheim, Calif., for its second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.

C-USA: Joe Jackson hit two free throws with seven seconds left and fourth-seeded Memphis (25-9) rallied past UTEP 67-66 to win the conference championship in El Paso, Texas.

IVY: Douglas Davis hit a leaning jumper at the buzzer to give Princeton (25-6) a trip to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004 with a wild 63-62 win over Harvard in New Haven, Conn. "It felt good. It went in," he said. "I fell on the ground and that was the worst decision I ever made, because everyone just jumped on me."

MID-AMERICAN: Steve McNees blocked Carlton Guyton's last-second 3-pointer, giving sixth-seeded Akron (23-12) a 66-65 win over top-seeded Kent State in overtime in the conference championship in Cleveland.

MEAC: Brandon Tunnell had 20 points, including four free throws in the final 35 seconds, and second-seeded Hampton (24-8) secured its first NCAA Tournament berth in five years with a 60-55 victory over Morgan State in Winston-Salem, N.C.

SOUTHLAND: Freshman forward Jeromie Hill had 25 points to lead seventh-seeded Texas-San Antonio (19-13) to a 75-72 win over top-seeded McNeese State in the final in Katy, Texas.

SWAC: Tremayne Moorer had 14 points, lifting fourth-seeded Alabama State (17-17) to a 65-48 victory over Grambling to win the tournament championship in Garland, Texas.

UTAH FIRES COACH: Coach Jim Boylen was fired two days after the Utes ended a second straight losing season.

.Fast Facts

Automatic bids

Akron Mid-American

Alabama State SWAC

Ark.-Little Rock Sun Belt

Belmont Atlantic Sun

Boston U. America East

Bucknell Patriot

Butler Horizon

UCSB Big West

UConn Big East

Gonzaga West Coast

Hampton MEAC

Indiana St. Mo. Valley

Kansas Big 12

Long Island Northeast

Memphis C-USA

Morehead St. Ohio Valley

NC-Asheville Big South

N. Colorado Big Sky

Oakland (Mich.) Summit

Old Dominion Colonial

Princeton Ivy

Richmond Atlantic 10

St. Peter's Metro Atlantic

San Diego St. MWC

Texas-S.A. Southland

Washington Pac-10

Wofford Southern

New tourney format

The NCAA field was expanded to 68 teams this year. The four-game first round is Tuesday and Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio. The four lowest seeds overall and the four lowest at-large seeds will play. The winners advance to the second round, joining 60 other teams that have first-round byes.

Second- and third-round games

Where: St. Pete Times Forum, 401 Channelside Dr., Tampa

When: Thursday and Saturday

Tickets: $216 for six games, which include the two sessions on Thursday and one session on Saturday. Available through NCAA.com/tickets or ticketmaster.com.

UConn finishes five-day run 03/12/11 [Last modified: Saturday, March 12, 2011 11:29pm]

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