UConn snapped a three-game losing streak with a close victory over South Florida, which saw its last second three-point attempt just miss, giving the Huskies a hard-fought 68-65 home victory on Wednesday night.
Terry Larrier returned to form with an efficient 15 points, a mark that was matched by Christian Vital, and Jalen Adams led the way with 19 points.
Adams also contributed six assists for an offense that looked good in the first half but stagnated in the second. Josh Carlton led the Huskies with six rebounds, and David Onuorah led UConn’s bench players with six points before fouling out late in the game.
UConn scored the first points of the game and jumped out to an early lead, but unforced turnovers and mental mistakes gave USF plenty of chances; they just weren’t able to capitalize on them. After missing their first six field goal attempts, the Bulls settled in and canceled out the Huskies’ early run, tying the game at 11 apiece. USF took its first lead of the game halfway through the frame, and the rest of the half was mostly back-and-forth until UConn went on a big run toward the end of the period that put them ahead 35-23 at the break.
South Florida was able to overcome some of their issues—shooting woes and turnovers—with strong rebounding, particularly on the offensive glass. The Bulls recovered eight of their own missed shots in the first half, which helped to mask a well-below-average .286 field goal percentage in the period. They finished with 15 offensive rebounds and 24 second-chance points.
South Florida made the game a little tighter early in the second half, getting within single digits by the first television timeout, then getting within a possession seven minutes into the period. The Bulls’ shooting wasn’t quite as cold in the second half, and UConn’s big men got into foul trouble, creating easier opportunities for USF in the interior.
USF still didn’t hit many shots, though, allowing UConn to go on a quick 6-0 run to keep the lead. The teams traded baskets in the middle of the first half, as the Bulls never let the Huskies run away with the game. With just under six minutes to play, South Florida exploited a UConn turnover to go within a point of the lead, and by the U-4 timeout, the Huskies led only by three.
A pair of Vital free throws pushed the Huskies’ lead to five, and a Larrier three at the end of the shot clock gave UConn a favorable eight-point spread with 2:30 left. But a quick run by USF cut Connecticut’s lead in half with just over a minute to play, and the Bulls made it a two-point game with 40 seconds on the clock. On the ensuing UConn possession, Adams was fouled on a jump shot, and missed one of his two free throws, giving the Bulls a shot at tying the game, but they missed another three-point attempt as time expired.
Stephan Jiggetts led USF with 18 points and Isaiah Manderson added 15 and a game-high eight rebounds off the bench. Former UConn Husky Terrence Samuel didn’t score in his return to Storrs, but played solid defense while in the game. South Florida (8-16, 1-11) remains in last place in the American Athletic Conference and hosts Temple on Saturday.
UConn visits #22 Wichita State in a nationally-televised game on Saturday evening.