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McNamara is on target again

Syracuse guard helps stun UConn

Gerry McNamara waited one day to one-up himself.

The senior guard hit a 3-pointer with less than a second to play to give Syracuse a win over Cincinnati in the opening round of the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Yesterday, his 3-pointer with 5.5 seconds left in regulation tied the game and the ninth-seeded Orange went on to beat No. 1 Connecticut, 86-84, in overtime.

''I said [Wednesday's] shot was the best under the circumstances," an exhausted McNamara said yesterday. ''I'd have to change that to today's. We needed it."

The win should help the Orange (21-11) end any talk about whether they deserve an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

''Obviously they're a tournament team," Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said. ''I thought they were a tournament team yesterday."

That was a McNamara highlight show ago.

On Wednesday, his running three with less than a second to play meant a 74-73 victory over Cincinnati.

He topped that performance in the quarterfinals by scoring 17 points and handing out 13 assists, one short of the tournament record.

''He amazes me every time I see him play. He has more guts than anybody I've ever coached," said Syracuse's Jim Boeheim, who apologized for using profanity in defending McNamara on Wednesday after local media reported the player was overrated.

The loss shouldn't affect the No. 1 seed expected to go to Connecticut (27-3), but it ended a 10-game winning streak in the Big East quarterfinals for the Huskies, the regular-season co-champions with Villanova.

''It certainly was one of the most disappointing losses we've had in an awful long time," Calhoun said. ''We came out flat as heck. Just as we thought, that shot [Wednesday] carried their momentum right into today."

Syracuse, the defending champions in this tournament, will play No. 23 Georgetown, which beat Marquette, in tonight's semifinals.

The Orange, who lost twice to Connecticut during the season, led, 39-28, at halftime and a three by McNamara extended the lead to 49-35 with 16:43 to go. The Huskies, who trailed, 10-0, just 2:30 into the game, started chipping away and were within 62-56 with 7:24 to play.

McNamara hit a three to restore the lead to 9 points, but Connecticut tied the game with a 9-0 run capped by four free throws by Hilton Armstrong.

Rashad Anderson's 3-pointer with 32 seconds left in regulation gave Connecticut the lead for the first time, 72-71.

Josh Wright missed a shot with 12 seconds left -- McNamara could be heard complaining he didn't touch the ball on the possession -- and Denham Brown made two free throws with 11 seconds left to make it 74-71.

McNamara took the inbound pass -- something Calhoun had implored his team to not let happen -- and he dribbled to just outside the 3-point line and drilled his third three of the game to tie it.

Pittsburgh 68, West Virginia 57 -- Freshman Sam Young, making his first start of the season, had 14 points and 11 rebounds to lead the No. 15 Panthers over the No. 19 Mountaineers.

The sixth-seeded Panthers (23-6) will face No. 2 Villanova (25-3) in the semifinals tonight. The Wildcats were the only one of the top four seeds to advance to the semifinals.

Young, a 6-foot-6-inch forward who came in averaging 7.7 points and 4.2 rebounds, started in place of junior forward Levon Kendall, who missed the game because of lower back spasms. Young finished 7 for 8 from the field and blocked two shots for the Panthers.

Aaron Gray had 19 points and 15 rebounds for Pittsburgh, while Carl Krauser had 10 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds.

Kevin Pittsnogle had 22 points for the third-seeded Mountaineers (20-10), while Mike Gansey had 10 points despite missing the final 10 minutes of the games because of an abdominal muscle strain.

Georgetown 62, Marquette 59 -- Brandon Bowman went 6 for 6 from the free throw line in the final minute to help the No. 23-ranked Hoyas hold off the Golden Eagles.

Steve Novak hit his sixth 3-pointer with 5.6 seconds left to bring Marquette within 60-59. But Bowman restored the 3-point lead with two free throws with 5.1 seconds left. Jerel McNeal missed a 30-footer at the buzzer that would have tied the game.

Georgetown (21-8) led Marquette, 49-48, with 5 minutes left before using a 9-2 run to take a 58-50 advantage with 37.7 seconds remaining. Bowman, who finished with 14 points, scored 6 during that stretch.

Marquette (20-10) then scored the next 6 points, capped by Dominic Jones's layup with 12.9 seconds left to close to 58-56. Jones, who was the conference's freshman of the year, was 2 of 15 from the field. Bowman then ended the run with two free throws with 11.5 seconds left.

Villanova 87, Rutgers 55 -- Allan Ray scored 19 of his 26 points in the second half as the No. 2 Wildcats went on a decisive run and pulled away from the Scarlet Knights to advance to the semifinals of the Big East tournament.

Will Sheridan added 17 points and 13 rebounds for the Wildcats (25-3).

Villanova, the Big East's regular-season co-champion with No. 1 Connecticut, trailed by one early in the second half but prevented the type of upset that eliminated the Huskies earlier in the day.

Quincy Douby scored 31 points -- 24 in the first half -- to lead 10th-seeded Rutgers (18-13), which will wait for the NIT announcement to see if it plays another game under coach Gary Waters. The Scarlet Knights' coach announced March 1 he would resign at the end of the season.

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