Napier, Ollie Talk About Win Over St. Joe's

The Huskies escaped a first-round upset at the hands of St. Joseph's Thursday night in an overtime thriller, and now the No. 7 seed will meet former Big East foe and 2 seed Villanova in Saturday's round of 32.

But Thursday night, minutes after UConn's 89-81 win in a game in which Kevin Ollie's team didn't really start playing until late in the second half, the conversation was about the comeback win and what it could mean for the rest of the tournament.

"In the back of mind, I just told myself that this could be my last game, and I don't want to end on that note," senior point guard Shabazz Napier told CBS Sports' Ali LaForce on the court after the final whistle. "I don't think I played great so I just wanted to give my total effort. I was lucky to make shots, I was lucky to make plays for my teammates, and I was fortunate enough to get this win."

Napier finished with 24 points, although he had just five at halftime. Perhaps the play of the game came on a missed Napier layup with 39 seconds in regulation. Freshman Amida Brimah was there for the rebound, the outback, and he was fouled in the process. He calmly walked to the line and striped the free throw attempt to tie the game.

"Brimah made the big play," Napier said. "He got the rebound, laid it up, got fouled. And then he made the free throw, which is spectacular for him. A lot of guys in the pivotal moment get scared and he wasn't. He stepped up there, took the shot, and we're thankful it went in."

Ollie added: "[Brimah] went to the right hook, and that's pretty much money in the bank when he turns it over his left shoulder. He got fouled and he got excited, then he went to the free throw line and knocked them down."

Three years ago, the Huskies got hot in the Big East Tournament and reeled off 11 straight postseason wins that culminated in a national title. Napier was a freshman on that team and he knows that in the Big Dance, just about anything can happen.

"It's madness. You've seen what just happened. St. Joe's came in ready to play and they had us on our heels. We just had to fight back. And that's what's gonna happen in March Madness -- it always happens in the tournament. We just have to be ready for dogfights for the rest of the tournament. We're happy for that."

Ollie, meanwhile, was effusive in praising Napier, who has carried the Huskies for much of the season.

"One thing I want Shabazz to do -- he has a great gift to play this game, but give it away," Ollie said. "Don't hold it inside. And he's just doing that to a great degree, and all our guys stepped up tonight.

"It wasn't a particularly good first half for us but we just kept believing. And if you believe bigger, good things happen to you, always."

As for what we can expect from the Huskies Saturday, Ollie said it will about doing what got them to this pint.

"We just got to play together, share the ball, get back in transition, he said. ... "But I have to much passion for my players; it's not about us winning, it's about our players being the best student-athletes they can possibly be at this great university. We just want to represent it the right way."

Contact Us