In a valiant double-overtime effort, Quinnipiac men’s basketball fell to their in-state opponent No. 23 University of Connecticut 89-83 in the semifinals of the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas.
Five Bobcats ended up having double digit scoring outputs with Dave Johnson leading the pack with 16 (including a game tying three pointer at the end of the first overtime period). Garvey Young had 15, Ousmane Drame had 13 off the bench, Jamee Jackson scored 11, and Ike Azotam chipped in with 10.
UConn was led by a career-high 29 point output by Shabazz Napier with 23 of those coming in the final 3:24 of the second half and OT. Ryan Boatright earned the majority of his 18 from the stripe and Omar Calhoun added 17 to round out the Huskies double digit scorers and a back court who scored 64 points.
The game was close throughout with double digit lead changes and ties and both teams having significantly low first half shooting percentages, but in the second half both stepped up those numbers. The largest lead came off of a three pointer from Quinnipiac’s Evan Conti with 4:56 left in the second half. However, they could not close out the game as Boatright and Napier led the Huskies on a 16-6 run to send the game to OT.
It would take two overtime periods to end the game, however. With the Huskies getting out to a quick 75-71, Quinnipiac responded when it counted. Garvey Young hit a three point shot with 13 seconds left to start the comeback. After a pair of free throws from Napier, Johnson sank the game tying shot with a little more than four seconds remaining. The second frame strongly favored UConn and the Bobcats could not muster up another late game effort.
The Huskies held the advantage from the free throw line making 39-of-45 (86.7%) attempts, matching the program’s record for most made free throws in a single game while Quinnipiac was 24-for-35 from the free throw line for 68.6%.
The Bobcats front court stood out grabbing 44 rebounds to their opponent’s 35, with 14 of those coming on the offensive end versus Connecticut’s five.
UConn has not lost a game to an in-state opponent since Dec. 29, 1986 when Jim Calhoun dropped one to Hartford in his first year as head coach. The streak stands at 67 straight wins.
Huskies’ head coach Kevin Ollie, on his team’s opponent and former fellow assistant coach Tom Moore, said “They’re a physical team, I know Tommy Moore preaches that.”
The head coach for Quinnipiac on the game stated “It’s hard. My kids are a little devastated, because they feel they were close to beating a team that they have a lot of respect for. In tournaments like this, you don’t get extra points for playing really well against a good team.”