UW falls on road to UConn
HARTFORD, Conn. — Shabazz Napier scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds to help Connecticut over Washington 61-53 on Saturday in the final nonconference game of the year for both teams.
Omar Calhoun led UConn (10-2) with 14 points and Ryan Boatright added 12 to help the Huskies to their fourth consecutive win.
Scott Suggs had 15 to lead Washington (8-5), which lost for the first time in five games.
UConn’s win came hours after coach Kevin Ollie agreed to a new 5 1/2-year contract worth just under $7 million. Ollie had been coaching under a one-season deal that he signed after taking over from Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun in September.
Ollie received a standing ovation as he walked onto the court, and the student section chanted his name.
UConn held Washington star C.J. Wilcox to just five points on 2-of-12 shooting. Wilcox, who came in scoring more than 19 points per game, had scored 20 or more in three straight games and seven of the Huskies’ last eight. He had scored in double figures in every game this season.
Connecticut held Washington to season lows in points and field goal percentage at 29.7 percent (19 of 64). Washington hit just 4-of-17 3-pointers.
UConn also outrebounded Washington 40-36. Connecticut had been outrebounded in 10 of its first 11 games by an average of more than six rebounds per game.
Connecticut stretched a five-point halftime lead by scoring the first seven points of the second half to go up 38-26. Its 15-2 run was capped by a 3-point shot by Napier from the corner.
UConn pushed that lead to 14 on an Omar Calhoun layup with 15 minutes to play.
But Shawn Kemp Jr. had a layup, a dunk and a blocked shot to help close that gap to 48-44 and force a UConn timeout with 8:15 to play.
Washington stayed within five before jumpers by Boatright and Omar Calhoun stretched it back to nine with just more than 3 minutes to play and put an exclamation point on the game with an ally-oop dunk from Omar Calhoun to 7-foot-1 center Enosch Wolf.
A layup by Wilcox cut the lead to six with 32 seconds left, but Omar Calhoun hit two free throws on the other end to seal it.
Washington had jumped to an early 16-10 lead as UConn missed some early free throws, including four on one play.
Those were shot after Aziz N’Diaye picked up a technical foul for kicking Omar Calhoun after fouling him on a drive to the basket.
Despite the missed free throws, UConn went on an 11-0 run, highlighted by a steal and a double-clutch layup from Napier, to take a 21-16 lead.
But Connecticut missed all seven of its first-half attempts from 3-point range and Washington stayed in the game despite having both N’Diaye and Abdul Gaddy in foul trouble. Gaddy picked up his third foul with just under 4 minutes left in the half.
Washington trailed Connecticut 31-26 at halftime.
Washington fell to 1-2 in Connecticut this season. It beat Seton Hall and lost to Ohio State in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament in nearby Uncasville in November.
Washington dropped to 2-13 in games played in the Eastern Time Zone under coach Lorenzo Romar.
UConn visits Marquette for its Big East opener on New Year’s Day, while Washington opens the Pac-12 season at Washington State on Jan. 5.
The game was played in front of a crowd thinned by a storm that was expected to dump more than eight inches of snow on Hartford on Saturday evening. There were almost 13,000 tickets sold, but just more than 6,600 fans in the building, school officials said.
Jim Calhoun, who retired in September, missed his first game this season because he was vacationing in Florida. Ollie said he tried to reach his mentor by telephone on Saturday to tell him about his new deal.
“I think he’s on the 14th hole in Miami,” Ollie said. “But wherever he is at, I know he’s got a great big smile on his face.”