UConn 57, Harvard 49

UConn forward DeAndre Daniels was having back spasms Friday and

wasn’t sure he would be able to play against Harvard.

He fought through the pain to score a career-high 23 points to

lead Connecticut to a 57-49 win.

”I just kept scoring and kept getting more confidence in myself

and my teammates kept looking for me, and I was knocking down my

shots,” he said. ”(The pain) was going away.”

Ryan Boatright added 16 points for the Huskies (7-2), who were

coming off a four-point loss to No. 25 North Carolina State earlier

in the week.

Wesley Saunders had 14 points and Steve Moundou-Missi added 10

for Harvard (4-4).

Harvard trailed by three at halftime and was down just 33-32

after a layup by Saunders early in the second half.

But the Huskies went on a 13-2 run over the next 7 1/2 minutes

and stretched that lead to 12. An alley-oop from Shabazz Napier to

Niels Giffey made it 46-34 and brought the crowd to their feet, and

UConn was able to keep Harvard at arm’s length the rest of the

way.

”They were getting their confidence on, and any team is

dangerous once they get their confidence,” Boatright said. ”Once

they cut it to one, we knew we had to stop their run, and break

their hearts again.”

Daniels began getting back spasms in the Huskies’ loss to North

Carolina State on Tuesday. But he felt good enough to start and had

15 points in the first half and eight during a 15-2 UConn run that

opened the game.

”He just controlled the game … and then showed the toughness

that we want,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. ”With the back

spasms, it locked up during the first TV timeout and he just

continued to play.”

The Crimson missed their first six shots, and had five turnovers

before they scored their first basket, a dunk by Jonah Travis, six

minutes into the game.

UConn, meanwhile, hit six of its first seven shots.

Junior center Enosch Wolf made his first career start after

putting up career highs of 12 points and nine rebounds against

North Carolina State. He blocked the game’s first shot and had two

early baskets in UConn’s opening run.

When he went to the bench for a rest, Harvard got back into the

game by going on an 11-0 run. Christian Webster had two 3-pointers

during that stretch and three in the half.

The Crimson got within a point at 25-24 on a layup by

Moundou-Missi, and trailed 27-24 at halftime.

The loss snaps a two-game winning streak for the Crimson, who

had beaten Fordham at home and Boston College on the road.

Harvard is playing short-handed all season after losing

co-captains Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry to a cheating scandal that

had them take one-year leaves of absence from the team.

”I’m finding out that we have a scrappy team,” Harvard coach

Tommy Amaker said. ”But, we’re also finding out that we can’t have

big stretches of games where we aren’t efficient.”

Daniels (15), Boatright (eight), and Wolf (four) were the only

Huskies to score in the first half. A dunk by Giffey that made it

39-34 midway through the second half was the first basket by

another Husky.

Napier had just six points, all in the second half. But he had

nine assists and added seven rebounds. Napier had been averaging

18.6 points a game, and almost 13 of those in the second half.

UConn, a guard dominated team, was outrebounded 27-20 and has

been outrebounded in eight of its nine games.

Harvard falls to 0-4 against UConn under Amaker, and the Huskies

lead the series 16-2. Harvard hasn’t beaten UConn since 1972.

The Huskies, who were ranked as high as 21 earlier in the season

have played to the level of the competition.

They beat Michigan State and played N.C. State tough, but also

won by single digits over Quinnipiac, Stony Brook and New

Hampshire.

”For us to play the way we play, Coach is going to get gray

hair and he’s only 30-something years old,” Napier said. ”He’s

going to look like (70-year-old former coach Jim) Calhoun in two

months, and we don’t want that to happen.”