"I think it's great for our university," USD head coach Bill Grier said. "To never have won a game in the NCAA Tournament, I'm really excited for the university, the community of San Diego."
The Toreros controlled play for a majority of the contest, leading at halftime and jumping out to an 11-point lead early in the second half. But the Huskies went on a run and tied the game with 8:21 to play. From that point, neither team led by more than six.
USD had the ball and trailed Connecticut by one with 5.2 seconds left in overtime. Out of the timeout, the ball was inbounded to USD sophomore guard De'Jon Jackson, who dribbled to the right and hit a fadeaway jump shot from just inside the three-point line over the outstretched arms of Connecticut forward Stanley Robinson with 1.2 seconds remaining.
Jackson then stole the ensuing Connecticut inbound pass to secure the win. The tournament win was the first for USD, which started playing at the Division I level in 1979. For the Huskies, the loss was their first ever in the tournament's first round under Jim Calhoun.
The Toreros defeated Connecticut (24-8) even though they were outsized by the Huskies at every position. Jackson said this did not deter the team's confidence going into the game.
Pomare led USD with a game-high 22 points, shooting 10-for-12 from the field. He scored 10 of the Toreros' first 18 points and finished the first half with 14, helping the team to a 34-29 halftime lead.
USD controlled the tempo and played staunch defense in the first half, recording seven steals. Connecticut suffered a blow nine minutes in when junior guard and floor leader A.J. Price suffered a torn left ACL on a layup attempt. Price's absence for the remainder of the game affected the Huskies' offensive continuity.
With the game tied 46-46 in the second half, consecutive threes by Johnson extended the USD lead back to six. Despite fighting through leg cramps in overtime, USD's leading scorer played all 45 minutes and finished with 18 points and five assists. Freshman forward Rob Jones also scored in double figures with a 14-point, six-rebound performance.
The game went into overtime tied at 60 after Jackson missed a runner at the end of regulation. Connecticut junior forward Jeff Adrien led the Huskies with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Two days later, the Toreros tournament run came to an end at the hands of No. 12 seed Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers (29-6) took down USD 72-63 in the second round.
USD failed to slow down the pace and succumbed to Western Kentucky's backcourt pressure in the first half Sunday. USD had 12 first-half turnovers and trailed 39-27 at the break.
"They got us out of our comfort zone and kind of sped us up a little bit," Pomare said. "Just sped it up too much."
USD rallied from a 15-point deficit in the second half with an 18-2 run over a 10-minute stretch. Toreros freshman guard Devin Ginty put the team ahead 55-54 with a three-pointer with 6:35 to play.
But Western Kentucky's star senior guard Courtney Lee answered 18 seconds later with a three of his own and USD never led again.
Lee finished the contest with a game-high 29 points and seven rebounds.