Most nights, 55 percent shooting from the field, including 73 percent from 3-point territory, will get you to the winner's circle, but it wasn't enough for Pitt when Connecticut's Kemba Walker drilled a jumper over Gary McGhee as time expired at Madison Square Garden to send the Panthers home 76-74 losers in their Big East quarterfinal matchup with the Huskies on Thursday afternoon.
The sensational Walker finished with 24 points and took over the game for UConn in the second half. Equal to the task was Pitt's Ashton Gibbs, who racked up 27 points on 6-for-7 3-point shooting to lead Pittsburgh. After halftime, the pair seemed to be locked in a blow-for-blow battle right down to the wire.
Connecticut trailed by double digits early, but rallied to within one by halftime. In the second half, the Panthers again threatened to take a double-digit lead, but Walker and the Huskies rallied and kept the game within one possession until the last seconds.
In the final minute, Gibbs hit his sixth three of the game to tie the game at 74 with 49 seconds remaining. On the ensuing UConn possession, Walker missed a jumper, but his team grabbed the offensive rebound, setting up the final sequence in which the Huskies drew a mismatch of McGhee guarding Walker in which Walker faked a drive, then stepped back and drained the game winning bucket.
"This is probably the biggest thing ever," Walker told ESPN after the game. "To hit a game winner against one of the best teams in our league, that's a special moment."
UConn shot only 44 percent for the game, and was just 3-for-12 from beyond the 3-point line, but the Huskies won the game by dominating Pitt in transition, winning the points-off-turnovers statistic 20-0. Pitt turned the ball over 11 times, but UConn made the Panthers pay almost every time.
Pitt is now one-and-done in New York and will await its fate for the NCAA Tournament on Selection Sunday. The Panthers are a projected No. 1 seed at the moment by many prognosticators, but that may fluctuate with an early-round loss in the Garden. UConn will move on to the semifinals.