UConn tops Cincinnati 73-66
Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 22, 2013 16:02
In the last game of the season at the XL Center, the UConn Huskies defeated the Cincinnati Bearcats 73-66 in overtime. Junior Shabazz Napier scored 11 of his 27 points in overtime to lead the Huskies to their eighth Big East win and an 18-7 overall record.
“It was a grind-it-out game and we proved that we win these types of game, once again,” Head coach Kevin Ollie said.
UConn scored just 18 points in the second half but matched the total in five minutes of overtime to send the Hartford crowd home happy.
Cincinnati junior Justin Jackson set the tone early with a baseline dunk on the first possession of the game. UConn junior Niels Giffey responded with an aggressive drive to the basket and lay-up as he got fouled. He made the free throw and UConn cut the Cincinnati lead to one.
Cincinnati’s second-chance opportunities were the theme for the night. The Huskies worked endlessly for 35 seconds on defense only to have Cincinnati center David Nyarsuk grab an offensive rebound and kick it out to senior Cashmere Wright for a three-pointer. The Bearcats held their biggest lead of the first half when Giffey fumbled a rebound out of bounds, which led to a long jumper from JaQuon Parker to give Cincinnati a 9-5 lead.
Cincinnati corralled 17 offensive rebounds to lead to 17 second-chance points.
Six minutes into the game, Napier sat open behind the three-point arc, double clutched then scored his first points of the game. The next play sophomore Ryan Boatright corralled a long rebound and turned it into another three from Napier giving UConn its first lead of the game at 13-11.
Junior Titus Rubles and the Bearcats took advantage of another offensive rebound that led to a three from junior Sean Kilpatrick.
Giffey responded with an offensive rebound and put-back of his own as he gave the Huskies the lead at 20-18 with 11:46 left in the first half. Two minutes later, Boatright rattled home a long three. He would not score another point until overtime as he finished with nine points, five assists and only one turnover. Ollie credited the sophomore guard with taking Wright, Cincinnati’s second-leading scorer, out of the game from the second half on.
Freshman Omar Calhoun was not only battling down low all night, but also dealing with a bandage on his shooting hand due to a wrist injury. He missed his first three free throws in the first half, but finished 6 for 9 from the charity stripe, including two clutch free throws in overtime. He finished with ten points and a team-high six rebounds.
Cincinnati held a 29-27 edge with five minutes left in the first half, sophomore DeAndre Daniels stuffed Cincinnati’s Justin Jackson. After the swat, Daniels hustled down the floor and knocked down a three. Daniels finished with 17 points of 6 of 10 shooting.
Not to be out-done, Napier followed with his third three-pointer of the game to give the Huskies a 33-29 lead.
UConn would not record a point for the last 2:51 of the half, but still held a 37-34 halftime lead. The sudden lack of scoring carried over into the second half.
In a Carmelo Anthony-like moment, Daniels backed down Jackson and sunk a turn-around jumper to give UConn a 43-38 lead. But in a non-Melo moment, Daniels fouled Rubles with one second left on shot clock with 15:15 remaining in the second half.
Connecticut did not score a point for 8:49 in the meat of the second half. However, Ollie’s team limited the Bearcats to just five points during the stretch and did not let the game get away from them as it did Saturday against Villanova.
The drought ended when junior Tyler Olander slammed home his only points of the half.
With eight minutes remaining in regulation, the leaders on both teams stepped up as the Huskies and Bearcats exchanged blows. Kilpatrick knocked down a three from elbow to give Cincinnati a 46-45 lead.
Napier followed with a no-look bounce pass to Daniels to put the Huskies back up one. Kilpatrick then hit another three to put Cincinnati up 49-47.
A pair of free throws from Cheikh Mbodj gave the Bearcats its largest lead of game of six.
With less than two minutes left and UConn down 53-52, Napier drove to the basket and got fouled. He made one of two from the line to tie the game.