Without Rashad Anderson, there would be no overtime Friday night and no chance for Connecticut to win another national title.
The senior guard's dramatic three-pointer with 1.8 seconds left in regulation forced OT and allowed the Huskies to pull out a 98-92 victory over Washington. The game ended at nearly 1 a.m. and Anderson said he got no sleep until 5:30.
UConn survived by wiping out a six-point deficit in the final 65 seconds and climbing out of a four-point hole in the final 20 seconds.
"We just refuse to lose," Anderson said Saturday in Verizon Center. "In the huddle Denham Brown was saying there was a lot of time left and we can still win this game. I'm still shocked today. When [point guard] Marcus Williams and I woke up this morning, it was like, 'Yo, we won last night.' I just turned to him and said, 'Yeah, we did.' "
Anderson hit back-to-back treys midway through the second half to spark UConn back from an 11-point deficit.
"He is the best clutch three-point shooter I've coached and we've had some great ones," said coach Jim Calhoun. "Intuitively he has a feel for when we really need a big three. No one makes as many big shots -- I call them 'daggers' -- as Rashad has. So there must be more to it than just 'I like to get the ball in the basket.' He's done it time after time."
"I just think about putting the ball in the hole and helping my teammates out," Anderson said. "If you ask any of my teammates or Coach Calhoun, when the game is on the line and we're down, I want the ball. I want to knock down shots to get us going. I never second-guess myself."
Anderson endured a near-fatal staph infection last season and his weakened legs did not allow him to get lift on his jump shots as UConn was a second-round loser to North Carolina State. He's fully healthy this year.
"I've already been saying that I've started to miss him and he's not even gone yet," Calhoun said. "I'll miss his smile, miss him walking into a room. Even on one of his darkest moments when he had just been taken off the resuscitator [following the infection], he said to me, 'I bet you miss my jump shot more than me.' He was semi-right. He's just an incredible kid."
With UConn throwing the ball all over the floor Friday en route to 26 turnovers, Calhoun put freshman Rob Garrison of Niagara Falls on the floor for a minute in the first half with the Huskies trailing, 40-30. Garrison had not played in the previous nine games.
"I wanted to introduce him in case we need him, to get his feet wet in the tournament," Calhoun said. "He's the quickest ball handler we have. . . . We were thinking we may need this kid late in the game. He's a tremendous foul shooter. His problem right now is defense."
There was plenty of confusion in the building Friday night about how historic George Mason's Elite Eight berth is for No. 11 seeds. An NCAA manual shows Temple's trip in 2001 as the last time an 11 got this far but officials here said that was in error and that Loyola Marymount's trip in 1990 was the last time an 11 got to the cusp of the Final Four.
It wasn't until 1:30 a.m., after the Connecticut game ended, that the Temple stat was reaffirmed and a correction was issued -- of course missing every newspaper deadline east of the Mississippi.