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Connecticut Downs Wildcats, 79-70
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 11/23/2005
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) - Connecticut's star had an off night and his teammates made sure it didn't mean a loss.

Despite sophomore forward Rudy Gay only scoring six points on 2-for-10 shooting with five turnovers, the third-ranked Huskies held No. 9 Arizona without a field goal for a 5-minute stretch of the second half in a 79-70 victory Tuesday night in the semifinals of the EA Sports Maui Invitational.

The Huskies (3-0) will meet No. 8 Gonzaga in Wednesday's championship game. The Bulldogs (3-0) advanced with a 109-106 triple-overtime victory over No. 12 Michigan State.

Denham Brown scored 17 points for Connecticut, while freshman point guard Craig Austrie had 15 points and senior center Hilton Armstrong had a career-high 14 points and eight rebounds.

``It feels good so many guys contributed,'' Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said. ``We, the coaching staff, to some degree, have become so reliant on Rudy and he didn't have a particularly good evening and that happens to great players and will continue to happen.''

The Huskies led by 10 points late in the first half and were up 41-34 at halftime as they handled the ball much better than they did in the opening-round win over Arkansas when they committed 23 turnovers.

But the turnover problem returned in the second half and Arizona (1-1) forced Connecticut into several mistakes as the Wildcats went in front 50-49 on a 3-pointer by Ivan Radenovic with 11:54 to play.

``We got out ahead and they just took over the game as we started standing around,'' Calhoun said. ``But we came back with that run which really speaks to the character of this team.''

Connecticut is playing without suspended point guard Marcus Williams and his absence will be a factor in how the Huskies play until he returns in January.

But defense made up for any problems as Arizona went 5 minutes without a field goal as Connecticut went up 67-56 on two free throws by Armstrong with 2:47 left. Hassan Adams scored to end Arizona's field goal drought but Josh Boone answered with a dunk and the Wildcats were never closer than seven points the rest of the way.

``Connecticut's quickness really hurt us right off. They were beating us down the court,'' Arizona coach Lute Olson said. ``We started off with lousy shots and that's our biggest problem right now.''

Connecticut had a big advantage at the free throw line, making 30 of 35, while the Wildcats were 12-of-22. Armstrong was 8-of-9 at the line and Austrie didn't miss any of his six attempts.

``The free throws hurt us but they were taking the ball to the basket and took 35 and made 30,'' Olson said. ``The difference was their aggressiveness to the basket and we settled for shots.''

Radenovic had 20 points and nine rebounds for Arizona, while Adams added 14 points.

Radenovic was cut over the eye in the opening-round win over Kansas and received 17 stitches, five inside the cut.

The 6-foot-10 junior went 3-for-3 from 3-point range.

``Ivan is capable of doing that,'' Olson said. ``We didn't do a good job of finding him. We'll get that straightened out, I think.''

The Huskies finished with 16 turnovers, only two by Austrie.

``I just had to step up and get their attention,'' Austrie said. ``I had the confidence. I knew I could hit the shot.''

Connecticut's only appearance on Maui was a fifth-place finish in 2000. This is the first time in four appearances Arizona has not reached the championship game. The Wildcats won it all 2000 and finished second in 1993 and 1997.

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