STORRS—The UConn Huskies let one bad loss snowball into another and now for the first time since 1968 the Huskies are 0-2 to open a season.
Northeastern upset UConn at Gampel Pavilion to give the Huskies their second home loss in three nights, looking flat in a 64-61 loss in front of 7,573. Most issues plaguing Kevin Ollie’s squad were familiar: ineffectiveness against the zone defense, poor rebounding, a slow start and the inability to get key stops at crucial junctures.
Northeastern opened the game on a 15-4 run, keeping UConn at arm’s length for much of the night as it took a 35-31 lead into the half. The Huskies closed in the second, with an Alterique Gilbert three cutting the Northeastern advantage to 61-59 with 2:54 remaining. Northeastern quickly responded as Donnell Gresham buried a three on the next possession pushing the lead back to five.
Terry Larrier, who scored a team-high 17 points, drove the lane and knocked down an acrobatic layup to make it a one-possession game, 64-61 with 1:15 to go.
The Huskies forced a turnover on the ensuing inbound but a Larrier three-point attempt sailed wide. UConn did get a stop on the other end, calling timeout with just 28 seconds left. Out of the timeout, the Huskies swung it around the perimeter a couple of times before Larrier settled for a three-pointer which missed.
On the ensuing Northeastern possession, Gilbert stole a pass in the backcourt, getting one last chance at a game-tying three as time expired but the shot rattled out.
UConn again was out-muscled by a smaller team, losing the rebounding battle 47-38, including 17 offensive rebounds, and allowing 20 points in the paint. Senior center Amida Brimah grabbed a team-high seven boards and was a force on the defensive end, coming up with eight blocks.
Larrier and Jalen Adams accounted for the bulk of the Huskies’ scoring, combining to score 32 of the team’s 61 points on 14-of-29 shooting. In hopes of limiting the penetration abilities of the UConn guards, Northeastern packed the paint with a 2-3 zone. The Huskies struggled to find an answer, shooting 23.8 percent (5-21) from beyond the arch and failing to collapse the zone by feeding Larrier in the high post. UConn even struggled at the free-throw line, shooting a dismal 46 percent (6-13).
Ollie made an adjustment to the starting lineup going into this one, putting Vance Jackson and Gilbert in for seniors Rodney Purvis and Kentan Facey. Jackson did hit a pair of threes and corralled four boards but Gilbert struggled to find his shot, finishing with 7 points on 3-of-10 shooting with 6 rebounds, 3 assists.
Coming off a poor performance against Wagner, Rodney Purvis wasn’t much better on Monday, scoring nine points on 3-of-9 shooting, though he did account for all of UConn’s bench points. Ollie expressed displeasure with his team’s ball movement after the loss to Wagner but little changed tonight—the Huskies only dished out 10 assists on 25 made field goals.
UConn now heads on the road to Los Angeles, California for a matchup with Loyola Marymount on Thursday night at 10 p.m. before heading to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational.