HARTFORD, Conn. -- Ryan Boatright walked off the court with 45 seconds remaining.
It was quite likely the worst game of his career in the American Athletic Conference final against SMU.
He watched his nightmare game come to an end on the bench. Of all insults to injury after a 1-12 shooting night, two times helped off the floor after getting injured, he was whistled for a questionable fifth foul in the closing 30 seconds.
UConn's reign as national championship came to an end at XL Center on Sunday afternoon with a 62-54 loss to SMU.
The Huskies, 20-14 overall, didn't have the muster for an at-large bid and now wait out the NIT.
Boatright was the reason the Huskies had a shot at the NCAA bid, with three straight days of heroics. That he had the worst game of his career -- only the fourth time he's only had one field goal in the game -- at this time hurts.
The fact he has implored for help all season, and got 29 points from Rodney Purvis, also hurts.
Boatright hung his head on the bench as the final buzzer sounded. As his teammates got up to shake hands, Boatright stayed on the bench. That was not how he wanted to go out. Fouled out, 1-12, in the NIT.
Boatright put the loss on him. The Huskies had overcome a 17-point deficit thanks to Purvis and had the game within five with three minutes to go. UConn couldn't close it out.
There was plenty of blame to go around, but Boatright and his seven points are the prime target.
"You know, when I play well, I get the credit. When I play bad, I should take the blame," Boatright said. "I take the blame for that game. Purv played a tremendous game.
"If (Purvis) goes for 29, if I make half of those shots we win the game. 1 of 9 from 3-point line, that's horrible. It is unacceptable for me. "
It was a bad game from the start. Boatright had scored 40 points in the previous two games and had played all 80 minutes of action. He took his first rest Sunday due to an inadvertent slap to the face from SMU's Yannick Moreira. Boatright was on the floor for several minutes before going to the bench.
With the Huskies down 17 in the second half, Boatright was injured after getting screened and once again was helped off. He sat out for three minutes as the Huskies cut the lead to 11 with 9:17 left.
Boatright did not take a shot for five minutes before he missed a 3 with 4:55 left.
The nightmare continued late. With 2:12 left in the game, SMU clinging to a 53-48 lead, Boatright was called for a questionable foul on SMU's Ben Moore after knocking the ball away from behind. Boatright was then whistled for a foul while guarding SMU's Nic Moore with the shot clock running down. that led to two more free throws. The last foul came on Moore with the shotclock running out. It was another close call and Boatright went to the bench.
Those six free-throws were critical, and Boatright wasn't happy. All the fouls came late in the shot clock.
"The offensive rebounds are our fault. The fouls? To me they were horrible calls," Boatright said. "You can't put the blame on the refs, we shouldn't have been in that situation, at least my last two fouls were horrible, terrible. (Referee) Called a foul Ben Moore, who is a center, is trying to do an in-out crossover between two defenders and I tapped the ball from the back and he called a foul? The same ref called all three fouls. I don't know what he had against me, or whatever it was, it was a horrible call to me. I can take it on the chin. I shouldn't have been in that position to begin with and taken care of business on the offensive end of the floor."
The game ended and soon the XL Center emptied. Boatright was the last to leave the floor as fans clapped and shouted words of encouragement.
It was a nice gesture, but Boatright knows that his 1 for 12 doomed his last chance at the NCAAs.
"I was just off, just off night for me," Boatright said. "Missed a few shots, tried to get to the rim, didn't get to the foul line, them didn't go my way. But I'm a man though, I can take it, I can take it on the chest. I'm going to move on and keep working."
The work continues, but this one will be in the NIT.