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Bobcats rally late, fall to Huskies
STORRS – Basketball games between UConn and Quinnipiac aren’t supposed to be this close. Or this low scoring.
On Friday night though, in both teams’ season opener, the Bobcats gave the No. 18 Huskies a tough test in a 53-46 loss that may have actually brought some validity to the use of the word rivalry. The ‘Cats, riding a strong second half surge, closed the UConn lead to 48-46 on an Adam Gonzalez 3-pointer from the corner. But with just over a minute remaining Craig Austrie answered with a three of his own to put the game out of reach.
Austrie’s three did more than just pad UConn’s lead however. It also woke up a Gampel Pavilion crowd of 10,167 that was silenced by a resilient and determined Quinnipiac squad. Leading 35-16 at the half, it appeared the Huskies would cruise to another win over their in-state foe. Physicality and strong defending, coupled with poor Huskie free-throw shooting (44%), allowed Quinnipiac to jump back into the game. The Bobcats even opened the second half with 17-4 run to cut the deficit to six.
With the UConn lead at 48-38 following a Jerome Dyson jumper, Quinnipiac went on another small run, netting eight straight points, including Gonzalez’ timely three. The Huskies were not ready to roll over though, and Austrie stepped up and nailed his shot from the left wing to ice it.
Chris Wehye led all scorers with 17 points for the Bobcats, while DeMario Anderson chipped in with 11 of his own. Dyson led Uconn with 16 points and Jeff Adrien added 14 points.
After the game, Quinnipiac head coach Joe DeSantis was pleased with how his players responded in the second half.
“We realized at halftime that we were going to have a tough time scoring, so we really tried to stay with our defensive plan and just be aggressive,” DeSantis said. “We still didn’t play great offensively, but our defense was really good.”
DeSantis also praised a young UConn team that lost stars like Rudy Gay, Marcus Williams and Hilton Armstrong to the NBA.
“That first half, I’ve never seen a Connecticut team play as hard as that team did,” he said. “They just took us out of everything we can do. But our guys showed a lot of heart and battled. It certainly wasn’t the prettiest game.”
On the other side, UConn head coach Jim Calhoun was none too pleased with the effort his team put forth in its regular season opener.
“We can’t make a foul shot and we don’t play the way we practice,” Calhoun said. “It’s going straight backward right now and I have no idea for it.”
The Bobcats return to action tonight at home versus Concordia at 7 p.m.