UConn 93, Fairleigh Dickinson 85
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Connecticut never did find a way to stop Elijah Allen, who turned in one of the finest individual performances in the history of the NCAA tournament.
Fortunately for Connecticut, Fairleigh Dickinson couldn’t deal with Richard Hamilton or Khalid El-Amin and didn’t give Allen enough help on the offensive end of the floor.
The result was a 93-85 Connecticut victory Thursday night that thrust the Huskies into the second round of the East Regional.
Hamilton and El-Amin each scored 30 points and second-seeded Connecticut overcame a 43-point effort by Allen to win its seventh straight first-round game in the 1990s.
Connecticut (30-4) will bring a nine-game winning streak into Saturday’s matchup against Indiana, which advanced by defeating Oklahoma in overtime.
Allen’s career-high 43 points matched the third-best performance in an East Regional game. Playing in his final college game, the senior guard was 14-for-17 from the floor and 9-for-11 at the line. He also had eight rebounds and three assists.
``He was magnificent,″ Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said. ``We had 12 tapes of him, but never saw him do what he did tonight. Allen had a night I haven’t seen in 26 years of Division I coaching.″
But he received little support from his teammates. No other FDU starter made even half his shots and the Knights committed 19 turnovers.
Still, the underdog Knights trailed by only two points with 4:42 left before the Huskies cemented the victory with a 6-0 run.
Connecticut never trailed after El-Amin scored seven straight points to make it 33-26 with 6:11 left in the first half. But Allen managed to keep the Knights (23-7) within striking distance for most of the game.
``We kept trying to pull away. He kept keeping them close,″ Calhoun said.
``He got in a zone. He kept them in the game,″ said Ricky Moore, who attempted to guard Allen for most of the night.
Fairleigh Dickinson ran a transition offense all season, so coach Tom Green decided to stick to that strategy rather than slow the tempo against the Huskies. The problem was that Connecticut was a bit more athletic and just a step quicker than the Knights.
Given a reprieve from playing the plodding Big East style, the Huskies were delighted to forget about the 35-second clock and simply run up and down the court.
It made for great entertainment.
``If you didn’t enjoy this than you don’t enjoy anything,″ Allen said. ``We had a great time. Playing against UConn was the greatest ever. Unfortunately, no one person can win a game.″
Connecticut led by 11 late in the first half, but the Knights closed to 46-40 at the break. Allen scored 22 points in the first half on 7-for-8 shooting while his teammates went 7-for-26.
The Knights used a 3-pointer by Allen to make it 55-54 with 15:08 left. It was 59-57 before Connecticut’s Jake Voskuhl made a foul shot, Rashamel Jones hit a jumper, El-Amin scored from the outside and Jones made two free throws for a 66-57 lead.
The Knights weren’t through. Rahshon Turner scored five points in a 7-2 burst, and minutes later two foul shots by Allen made it 77-75.
Moore then hit a jumper for the Huskies and Hamilton followed with a dunk and two free throws to help Connecticut pull away.