The UConn Huskies battled hard but squandered two golden chances for victory in a double-overtime loss at Tulsa, 90-88. Jalen Adams and Christian Vital played their hearts out and Terry Larrier had a great game as well, but there wasn’t enough from the rest of the roster to combat the barrage of three-pointers the Huskies allowed to the home team.
Adams and Larrier kept the Huskies alive in the first half and after taking a six-point deficit into the break, UConn closed in after Vital caught fire from three. The sophomore guard finished with 22 points and seven rebounds while Larrier scored 19 with seven boards of his own. Adams finished with 29 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists.
Overall, the Husky offense played a bit smarter than we’ve become used to in the post-Gilbert era. They passed the ball around some and showed patience with shot selection, ultimately finishing with 18 assists and a 44.7 percent shooting performance.
Though UConn was able to keep Tulsa’s leading scorer Junior Etou relatively in check—he was scoreless in the first half and finished with just 10 points, seven below his season average—the Golden Hurricane started off hot from deep. Shooting guard Corey Henderson finished 8-15 from behind the arc on his way to 30 points, including two clutch threes at the end of regulation.
With just under a minute left and the Huskies up by one, Jalen Adams drove to the hoop and hit a floater while being fouled. He hit the free throw to complete the three-point play and give UConn a four-point lead with 57 seconds left. Henderson answered with a 3-pointer and then after Adams responded with a clutch pull-up jumper to push the lead back up to three, Henderson tied it up with another long-range shot. Bummer.
At the end of the first overtime, UConn had the ball up one with 12 seconds left needing to inbound the ball without incident and make free throws to ice the game. Easy enough, right?
Antwoine Anderson inbounded it to Adams as he was falling away from the baseline and Adams tried to bounce the ball out of bounds off a Tulsa player. The ball stayed in play; Tulsa’s Elijah Joiner recovered the ball and then drew a foul to get to the free-throw line. Joiner only hit one of two to tie it up and send the game to double overtime.
Late in the second overtime, Tulsa jumped ahead in the first 90 seconds and never trailed again. With Tulsa up three, Jalen Adams hit two free throws to cut it to one and made a steal to give UConn another chance at glory. Vital missed an open three with 29 seconds left and UConn was left to fouling after Tulsa grabbed the rebound. The Huskies had one last possession down two with 10 seconds left but couldn’t make it happen.
This was an improved overall offensive performance but that rings sour in light of poor perimeter defense for most of the game and some boneheaded plays which turned almost-certain victories into overtime situations. They could’ve fouled at the end of regulation to prevent the tying 3-pointer and could have drawn up a better inbounds play at the end of the first OT, but such is life when your basketball team is inexperienced and you can’t count on anyone besides your top three players.
UConn is now 7-7, currently riding a four-game losing streak and a 0-2 start to conference play. The Huskies will be in action next at home against East Carolina, who they better beat up otherwise we’ll have some very serious problems.