Stephenson’s late FTs help Cincinnati upset No. 10 UConn
Freshman Lance Stephenson was fouled with less than a second left
and made both free throws Wednesday night, rallying Cincinnati to a
breakthrough 71-69 victory over No. 10 Connecticut in a wild Big
East opener for both teams.
Cincinnati (9-3) had lost all five previous games against
UConn (9-3). The Bearcats led by 11 points before the Huskies made
a late run, tying it on Kemba Walker’s 3-pointer with 9.4 seconds
Stephenson dribbled into the lane and was fouled by Gavin
Edwards as the buzzer sounded. After a review, the officials put
seventh-tenths of a second on the clock, Stephenson went to the
line and made both, finishing with 21 points.
Jerome Dyson scored 24 points and Stanley Robinson added 22
as UConn lost its scoring balance during its first true road game
of the season.
It was a measuring-up game for Cincinnati, which expects to
hold its own in the Big East and get back to the NCAA tournament
for the first time since 2005, when Bob Huggins was still the head
coach. Stephenson, who went 7-of-7 from the line, made the two
shots that put them over the top.
The Bearcats knew it would come down to their front line. In
Cincinnati’s wins over then-ranked Vanderbilt and Maryland, the
front line dominated the boards. In other games, it got shoved
around. This time, it held its own.
Deonta Vaughn, who went through a 3-of-23 shooting slump from
behind the arc, made consecutive 3s that started a 12-2 run and put
the Bearcats ahead 30-18. Vaughn yelled and pumped his fist after
the second 3, showing his confidence was back.
Robinson had a basket and a three-point play during a 9-0 run
that got it down to 30-27 and turned it into a back-and-forth game.
Neither team got into an offensive flow in the half, which ended
with Cincinnati ahead 36-35.
Vaughn had 10 points, matching his high for any opening half
this season, and finished with a season-high 17.
Vaughn hit another 3 during a nine-point run that rebuilt the
lead to 47-37 early in the second half. The Huskies managed only
one basket during the opening 5:26 of the half, going 1-of-9 with
three turnovers during that span.
The Bearcats led 61-50 with 8:10 left when UConn made its
last surge behind Dyson, who scored 10 points during a spurt that
cut it to 67-63 with 2:27 to go.