A.J. Hoggard hit two free throws with 30.3 seconds left Thursday to put Michigan State ahead for good as the Spartans toppled No. 22 UConn 64-60 in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas.
Hoggard drove to the bucket and got the call, though replays showed he initiated contact with R.J. Cole. It was the fifth foul on Cole, sending the Huskies’ point guard to the bench. Their last two possessions ended with a turnover and an air ball from 3.
Malik Hall added two foul shots with 17 seconds remaining for Michigan State (5-1) and Tyson Walker sank the clinching free throw with 2.5 seconds on the clock. The Spartans will play either Baylor or VCU for the tournament title on Friday morning.
Gabe Brown scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Michigan State, while Julius Marble added 15 points, including eight straight down the stretch that helped the Spartans wipe out a seven-point deficit.
Adama Sanogo scored 18 points and snatched 10 rebounds for UConn (5-1), while Tyrese Martin chipped in 16 points and 12 boards. Cole finished with 10 points.
The Huskies played without starter Isaiah Whaley, who was held out of the game after suffering a fainting spell after Wednesday’s double-overtime win over Auburn.
Michigan State controlled most of the first half. It scored the game’s first six points and held Connecticut scoreless for the first 4:22, and without a field goal for the first 5 1/2 minutes. The Spartans out-toughed a team known for its toughness.
Brown scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds in the half to pace Michigan State. When he hit a 3-pointer in transition with 3:35 left in the half, the Spartans enjoyed a 32-18 lead and seemed ready to run the Huskies off the floor.
But Connecticut responded with the half’s final six points, with Andre Jackson making two foul shots with 47 seconds remaining. That allowed the Huskies to slice the margin to 32-24 despite making only 8 of 31 field goal tries in the half.