BUFFALO, N.Y. — With Jim Calhoun watching from the stands, Shabazz Napier capped Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie’s first NCAA tournament appearance with a win.
Shaking off a 23-foot miss at the second-half buzzer, Napier scored nine of his 24 points in overtime to lead seventh-seeded UConn (27-8) to an 89-81 win over 10th-seeded Saint Joseph’s (24-10) in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday night.
DeAndre Daniels scored 18 while freshman center Amida Brimah forced overtime by completing a three-point play in the final minute.
It was a big victory for Ollie, who took over two years ago after Calhoun was forced to step down because of health issues. After the Huskies won three national titles in 26 seasons under Calhoun, Ollie became the first UConn coach to lead the program to a tournament berth since Dom Perno in 1979.
And it came a year after Connecticut was barred from postseason play because of academic sanctions.
Langston Galloway scored 25 points for Saint Joseph’s (24-10). The Hawks wore down because of a lack of depth, and then lost their top forward Halil Kanacevic, who fouled out early into overtime.
With the game tied at 70 entering overtime, Daniels opened the scoring by completed a three-point play with 3:47 left during a 5-minute period the Huskies never trailed. Napier then scored seven straight points — five of them coming from the line — to put the Huskies up 82-74 with 55 seconds remaining.
The game turned in the final minute of regulation and after Hawks guard Chris Wilson hit two free throws to put Saint Joe’s up 70-67 with 49.2 seconds left.
Napier missed on a drive at the other end, but Brimah got the rebound to the left of the basket, and was fouled while putting it back. He tied the game by hitting the free throw.
Taking over with 39 seconds left, the Hawks never got a shot off on what became their final possession of regulation.
Michigan State 93, Delaware 78
SPOKANE, Wash. — Adreian Payne sent Tom Izzo a text. He wants to leave a legacy.
Consider it done.
The 6-foot-10 senior played the game of his life Thursday, scoring a career-high 41 points to help fourth-seeded Michigan State look every bit like a March Madness favorite in a victory over Delaware.
“He was playing in another zone, not even in the ozone,” Izzo said. “He was in Pluto and beyond.”
This marked the first 40-point performance in the NCAA tournament since Stephen Curry did it for Davidson in a win over Gonzaga in 2008. Payne set a school tournament scoring record, surpassing the 34 points Greg Kelser scored during Michigan State’s 1979 title run led by Magic Johnson.
Payne’s overall line: 10 for 15 from the field, 4 for 5 from 3-point range, and a tournament-record 17 for 17 from the free throw line. He chipped in eight rebounds, too.
“Forty-one is 41, and he was a load tonight,” Delaware coach Monte Ross said. “He was probably the best big man that I have faced in 21 years of college basketball.”
Payne thought long and hard about leaving for the NBA after last season. He decided to stick around to see if he could lead Michigan State to another Final Four.
Asked what his best night — at least so far — in a Spartan uniform means to him, Payne said, “Leaving a legacy.”
“I talked to Coach about that,” he said. “The other day, I sent him a text and we’re just trying to win games. We are here to win the weekend and that’s the main goal.”
Though his entire performance was sublime, it was never better than during a 105-second stretch midway through the first half. Payne scored 12 straight points to help the Spartans (27-8) open an 18-point lead over the 13th-seeded Blue Hens (25-10).
“He made the right decision to stay,” Izzo said. “He’s a much more cerebral player, he’s a much stronger player. He is starting to marry the inside-outside game. And if he does that on a consistent basis, I see him as one of the best ‘4’ men in the whole country.”