Soccer, basketball survive close calls

David Butler II-US PRESSWIRE

Both teams won, but it wasn't easy for either.

The UConn basketball and soccer teams capped off a great weekend for Husky athletics with wins, but UConn fans could be forgiven for being very nervous about both.

The soccer team, playing at home thanks to its No. 1 seed, came back from a 1-0 deficit to defeat New Mexico in the second overtime period. Freshman Nick Zuniga had the game winner, which came as a great relief to fans who have seen UConn get eliminated from the NCAA tournament on penalty kicks several times in recent years. The Huskies, who were the 4th overall seed, will take on 11th overall Creighton next week after the Jays eliminated 5th seed Akron in penalty kicks this afternoon.

Moments after soccer escaped the Lobos the men's basketball team tipped off against Stony Brook, and like their compatriots at Morrone, the Huskies also got off to a slow start. Shabazz Napier once again was inexplicably quiet in the first half, but a barrage of threes and the best game of Niels Giffey's husky career (15 pts, 8 boards) allowed the Huskies to escape with the 73-62 win.

I really can't say enough thing about the Huskies outside shooting late. The Huskies made eight three pointers in the last 11 minutes of the game, a run that was ignited by a four-threes-in-six-possessions burst that turned a 39-39 tie into a 51-43 lead. Stony Brook stuck around after that, but were never able to trim UConn's lead to less than six.

UConn was once again out-rebounded, and we're almost getting to the point where you have to think UConn will never defeat an opponent on the boards. That means they're going to need good shooting nights -- they got that in the second half and it was enough to take down the Sea Wolves, but without more consistent scoring they'll be in trouble. A big part of that is Napier, who continues to be inexplicably silent in the first half before going off late. He finished with 19 points today and was the second best player on the floor after Giffey, but I'm sure Kevin Ollie would appreciate it if he'd start putting up a few more points in the opening half.

All told though this was a great weekend for UConn. The two wins today followed up football's upset over Louisville and women's basketball's easy walk to the Paradise Jam crown. Things aren't perfect in Storrs, but it's hard to find too much to complain about at the moment.

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