Somewhere in this fair land, UConn fans should hope, Christian Laettner was tuned to CBS Saturday afternoon.

It was then that the Huskies ended a decade of threats and dashed hopes and finally realized their goal of reaching the Final Four. They defeated Gonzaga, a team of potential Laettners, in the

NCAA West Regional final at America West Arena. The score was 67-62.

This was a three- sweat bucket game that ended with a chilling shower. Before the nets were cut,Rashamel Jones sneaked behind a band of leaping teammates and emptied a vat of ice water over the head of coach Jim Calhoun.

For perhaps the first time in his career, Calhoun was out of the coaching box and in no threat of a technical. He could have stamped his foot and proclaimed himself free of the ghosts of Duke, Mississippi State, Florida, UCLA. He could have wagged his finger at 4 million nagging fans, not to mention the Horde.

He just smiled and wiped tears from his eyes. There was irony in his quiet, smiling serenity.

``I did jump when that ice water hit me,'' Calhoun said. ``I prefer to have another bucket dumped on me in another week or so. That, I wouldn't mind.''

The Huskies (32-2) will meet South champion Ohio State (27-8) Saturday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.

It wasn't easy getting there.

Maybe UConn was seeded No. 1, maybe Gonzaga was seeded No. 10, and maybe nobody east of Idaho had ever heard of the Zags. No matter. Those Zags are good.

Richard Hamilton led the Huskies with 21 points. Kevin Freeman had a monstrous 13 points and 15 rebounds, 10 offensive. Ricky Moore kept his team in the game in the first half and finished with 12 points.

Gonzaga (28-7) got 18 points and eight rebounds from 5-foot-8 point guard Quentin Hall.

UConn center Jake Voskuhl got a call from his buddies at Stanford, Tim Young and Ryan Mendez, the other day. Gonzaga beat Stanford, a No. 2 seed, in the second round.

``Both Tim and Ryan said, `We underestimated them and that's why we lost,' '' Voskuhl said. ``Both of them were like, `Look out.' ''

Gonzaga became even better when UConn lost Khalid El-Amin to foul trouble. El-Amin picked up his second foul four minutes in. By then, the Zags had shown they were not afraid.

With El-Amin out of the picture, the Zags could concentrate on stopping Hamilton. Moore took it upon himself to penetrate the defense, score and be fouled. Moore had nine points in the first half; Hamilton, 11.

The first 20 minutes were entirely back and forth. UConn was overly cautious of the Zags' wont to shoot three-pointers and overplayed on the perimeter. The Zags busted the ball inside, where Jeremy Eaton, Casey Calvary and Mike Leasure did damage. The Zags had a 32-31 lead at halftime.

Just over three minutes into the second half, after a jam-back by Calvary, the Zags had a 41-37 lead.

``It came down to a matter of heart,'' Freeman said. ``I think we really underestimated their inside play in the first half. Then it was a matter of winning the game or losing. Jake and I and Edmund [Saunders] came in and said we were going to rebound. And I think that was the changing point.''