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UConn wrestled away a big road win on Thursday night.
The Huskies stand at 14-5 overall, 4-3 in the Big East, after a hard-fought 82-79 overtime win at Providence.
It was their first win at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center since 2006, ending a three-game road losing streak.
“Just a hell of a win…,” Ollie said. “We found a way to overcome. They dug deep to get this win. It wasn’t easy.”
Here’s your post-game breakdown:
-- Let’s start with rebounding.
The numbers are staggering.
Odds are that it has been a long time since any college basketball team was out-rebounded by such large margin (55-24) and still won.
“That’s terrible,” said sophomore Ryan Boatright of the deficit.
The deficit tied a Big East record for rebounding margin. St. John’s held a 64-33 edge over Seton Hall on Feb. 26, 1997. St. John’swon, 66-62.
So how did UConn still win?
Well, the Huskies played long stretches of terrific defense, limiting the Friars to 33.8 percent from the field.
Providence also failed to take full advantage of a whopping 28 offensive rebounds, scoring just 18 second chance points.
Four different Friars had more rebounds than any Husky. DeAndre Daniels led UConn with seven. LaDontae Henton had a game-high 13 for the Friars.
UConn did manage to battle even (3-3) on the boards in overtime.
“We got the crucial ones when it counted,” Ollie said.
-- Freshman Omar Calhoun hit the biggest shot of his young career, sinking a go-ahead 3-pointer with 41 seconds left in overtime.
“It was big time,” Ollie said.
Boatright found an open Calhoun in the corner after driving the baseline and drawing a crowd of defenders
“When I went up, I knew (the defense) was going to collapse and I just kicked it out, and he knocked it down,” Boatright said.
Calhoun said that he knew when he released the ball that it would go in.
“It felt good,” said Calhoun who finished with 13 points.
-- In the first half, Boatright limped off the court after rolling his right ankle. He returned after a short break and finished with a team-best 19 points and seven assists. He played a team-high 42 minutes.
“He had a little tweak in his ankle,” Ollie said. “But he’s a fighter. … One possession and then he was back in the game.”
Boatright: “I knew in order for us to win I had to get back out there and play and help my team. I just sucked it up.”
He also has been dealing with tendinitis in his left knee.
-- For the first time, two former Eastern Connecticut Conference players met in a Big East game.
PC freshman Kris Dunn ofNew London played hard but had a tough shooting night, going 1-for-7 from the field and 5-for-8 from the line. He finished with seven points and a career-high tying eight rebounds in 31 minutes.
He also made a big defensive play, blocking Boatright’s game-winning attempt at the end of regulation.
UConn reserve R.J. Evans, a Norwich Free Academy graduate, had two points, two assists, one block and one steal in seven minutes.
-- Napier continues to be Mr. Clutch. He scored eight of UConn’s 13 points in overtime and finished with 18 overall. He took just five shots, making four, and converted seven of 10 free throws.
He hit three of four free throws in the final 18.7 seconds of overtime to close out the win.
“I made the last three, but I’m upset over how many I missed,” Napier said.
-- Boatright did a decent defensive job on Bryce Cotton, the Big East leading scorer. Cotton, who came in averaging 21.7 points, had 18 points on just 4-for-15 shooting.
-- Whistle-happy referees called a total of 55 fouls – 28 on UConn, 27 on PC. Daniels, center Enosch Wolf and forward Tyler Olander all fouled out in overtime.
“I didn’t have any four or five man left at the end of the game, but we had each other,” Ollie said.
PC senior Vincent Council also fouled out in the extra session.
-- Olander played despite suffering from flu-like symptoms. He had more fouls (5) than points and rebounds combined (2) in 12 minutes. He also had two blocks.
-- The Huskies raced out to a 25-10 lead and then bogged down against a zone defense. They led 33-32 at intermission.
-- UConn improved to 2-1 in overtime games this season. The Huskies beat Quinnipiac, 89-83, in double overtime on Nov. 18 at the Virgin Islands Paradise Jam and lost atMarquette, 82-76, on Jan. 1.
-- PC coach Ed Cooley made a surprising lineup change, moving Council and Henton to the bench. He started Lee Goldsbrough and Ted Bancroft, two players that came in averaging a combined 2.9 points per game.
-- Some positives: The Huskies shot 50 percent from the field and had 20 assists compared to 11 turnovers. They also had a season-high 10 blocks.
“We just found a way to win,” Boatright said.
-- Napier: “We made the big plays down at the end and that’s what helped us win the game.”
-- Up next: UConn hosts South Florida Sunday afternoon in Storrs.
Today’s American Athletic Conference Championship semifinal doubleheader is underway here at the XL Center in Hartford. A crowd in the 12,000-13,000 range is expected for the UConn-Tulsa game. Tip-off time is 5 p.m.