NO DICE AGAINST NOVA
UConn falls to Villanova Wildcats 70-61
Jon Kulakofsky/The Daily Campus. UConn freshman guard Omar Calhoun attempts a three-pointer in a recent game against Villanova at the
After one of their most impressive games of their season Wednesday night, the UConn men's basketball team fell back to Earth with a disappointing loss to Villanova on Saturday afternoon, falling 70-61. With the loss, UConn fell to 17-7 overall and 7-5 in the Big East.
Both teams were slow out of the gate, and it appeared that UConn was dealing with a bit of a hangover effect following the emotional mid-week win against #6 Syracuse. Things took a turn for the worse for the Huskies with 16:49 remaining when Shabazz Napier picked up his second foul and was forced to spend time on the bench, a rare occurrence for the star point guard.
With their leading scorer on the bench, UConn struggled mightily to get anything going offensively and did not score for the next seven minutes, falling behind 13-6. Fortunately for the Huskies, a ferocious breakaway slam dunk by Deandre Daniels and an ensuing salute to the student section pumped some life back into the XL Center after a lackluster first ten minutes and ended an 11-0 run by the Wildcats.
Although Napier (16.3 ppg) and Ryan Boatright (15.4) were unable to get themselves going offensively in the first half, UConn took a 33-30 lead into the break. The Huskies received a nice boost from a pair of back-to-back threes from freshman Leon Tolksdorf, but were plagued by turnovers, committing a total of 19 on the afternoon.
"The killer for us was turnovers," said head coach Kevin Ollie. "When we had the ball in our hand, we didn't take care of it like I envision my team to take care of it."
Villanova took control of the game with a 16-2 run in the middle of the second half to take a 52-45 lead with 9:35 remaining. A huge three pointer by freshman Omar Calhoun cut the lead to four, but Villanova would not relinquish their advantage and was able to run away from the Huskies in the final minutes for the 70-61 victory.
"Every day is a new day and a new challenge that we need to rise up to, and we didn't do that today," said Ollie. "We didn't raise our standards up, and Villanova did, and you are going to get beat like that. In every failure when you get knocked down, you need to make sure that you pick up something. We have to keep building."
Villanova was led by freshman sharpshooter Ryan Arcidiacono's game high 25 points, including five three pointers, while Calhoun paced UConn with 16. Deandre Daniels and Niels Giffey each chipped in with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
The woes of Boatright and Napier continued throughout the afternoon, and the two leading scorers on the team combined for only six points on 3-15 field goal shooting, while committing ten turnovers. Meanwhile, UConn was outrebounded 41-25 and allowed twenty offensive rebounds.
"We definitely got out-toughed," said Calhoun of his team's rebounding struggles. "We have to do a better job of battling and fighting down there. They were able to do whatever they wanted to."
UConn will look to bounce back from the loss when they host Cincinnati in a crucial Big East contest on Thursday evening at the XL Center. The game will tip off at 7 pm.
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