UConn’s shooters led them to an 84-80 road victory over East Carolina on Sunday afternoon, as both teams saw their shooters catch fire from deep.
Both teams made 13 3-pointers apiece, each shooting 50 percent or better from behind the arc. It was only UConn’s second road win of the season.
Jalen Adams scored 26 points for the Huskies, while Terry Larrier added 20 and Christian Vital supplemented those efforts with 16. Tyler Polley put up 11 points off the bench, a number that marked a new season high for the freshman after setting his previous career best in the Huskies’ last game.
Kevin Ollie took his first timeout only two minutes into the game after the Pirates opened the contest with three-straight 3-pointers. The first seven baskets of the game for both teams were made from behind the arc, which kept the Huskies close even after East Carolina’s hot start.
And a hot start it was; it took ECU six and a half minutes to miss a field goal attempt, but the score was tied at 20 as the Pirates’ streak ended and UConn took its first lead of the game soon afterward. B.J. Tyson, the Pirates’ leader in points per game, picked up his second foul with eight minutes remaining in the half, and was forced to the bench, but would return later for more first-half minutes.
A quick run with under two minutes left gave East Carolina the lead right before halftime, and the Pirates went into the break up 42-40. They finished the half 8-21 from the field, a far cry from their 7-7 start, but it was still good enough to keep them ahead of the Huskies after the first 20 minutes.
Brief injuries to Adams and ECU’s Isaac Fleming kept them out for stretches in the second half, as the Pirates extended their lead in the first few minutes after halftime, going up by nine points only six minutes into the frame. UConn responded to their biggest deficit to that point with an 8-0 run sparked by a series of turnovers from the East Carolina offense.
The Huskies took the lead again halfway through the second period on a Vital layup, but uncharacteristically strong outside shooting from the Pirates kept them within reach, even after another scoring stretch for UConn.
After a late Polley three (one of three he made in the game) and a nice jumper from Antwoine Anderson following a controversial no-call, the Huskies still had to close out the game from the free throw line. But Anderson missed the front end of a one-and-one and Shawn Williams hit a wide-open NBA-range 3-pointer. All of tbe sudden, UConn had only a two-point lead with 15.6 seconds left to play.
Adams converted both shots in his ensuing one-and-one, and the Pirates missed an attempt near the basket with two seconds left, with Polley scooping up the rebound to seal the win.
Williams scored 26 points for the Pirates, including seven 3-pointers, Tyson added 20, and Fleming finished with a 13-point triple-double. East Carolina falls to 10-15 on the season and 4-10 in the American Athletic Conference.
Anderson led the Huskies in assists with seven, and Adams dished six dimes himself. Vital had the team high in rebounding, finishing with six boards, and helping out on defense with three steals. Josh Carlton played good interior defense and nabbed a pair of offensive rebounds.
The Huskies improve to 13-14 and 6-8 in the AAC, holding on to eighth place in the conference. UConn visits No. 5 Cincinnati on Thursday night in a nationally-televised game.