HARTFORD— Droughts like the ones the Huskies went through against Cincinnati are too hard to overcome.
UConn opened the game 1-of-8 from the field and finished by hitting one of its final 11 shots as a chance to extend its win streak to four straight was dashed by the Bearcats, 58-57, at the XL Center on Thursday night in front 13,242.
With 1:37 left freshman guard Jalen Adams put the Huskies up 57-53 with a drive down the right side of the lane. Cincinnati's Jacob Evans missed a three on the ensuing possession, turning it back over to UConn (14-6, 4-3) with 1:26 to go. However with a chance to seal the victory with a bucket, Adams coughed up possession to Evans who finished at the other end, cutting the Huskies' lead to 57-55.
A Rodney Purvis missed layup and a Daniel Hamilton missed jumper gave the Bearcats (16-6, 6-3) possession with 11 seconds remaining. Sophomore Gary Clark drove into the lane, sinking a pull-up, one-handed shot and drawing the foul on Shonn Miller. Clark buried the free throw, giving Cincinnati its first lead since the 6:24 mark of the second half and ultimately the victory.
Head coach Kevin Ollie drew up a play for senior Sterling Gibbs on the game's final play, only to see Gibbs' off-balance free-throw line jumper fall off the iron. Miller gathered the offensive board but his put-back attempt was no good and Adams' desperation heave at the buzzer grazed off the rim.
After the game Ollie was clearly upset that there was no foul call on Miller's attempt but more disappointed in his team's inability to finish at the rim.
"We just missed layups, getting right to the rim and missed layups. I can't do nothing else," Ollie said.
The Huskies opened just 3-of-14 from the field before Purvis entered and ignited the offense. Purvis' ability to get out on the break got the UConn rolling before Gibbs (14 points; 4 assists) delighted the home crowd with three straight long balls late in the first half. The Huskies went into the break making eight of their final nine shots and holding a 36-31 advantage.
However after shooting 50 percent from the floor in the opening half, the UConn offense again went cold in the second half, connecting at 28.1 percent (9 for 32). Purvis (12 points) couldn't finish at the rim while Hamilton's well-documented struggles to knock down shots continued as the two combined to go 3-of-16 after the break. The two teams combined to score 23 points in the final 12:27 while the Huskies were just 1-of-8 from three in the second half, three times getting called for shot clock violations.
The Huskies will look to rebound when they travel to UCF for a game on Sunday.