UConn avoids a second straight upset
Ryan Boatwright was playing in his first game for No. 4 Connecticut. Fellow freshman Shabazz Napier was coming off a terrible performance against Central Florida.
Boatwright hit three clutch free throws with seven seconds left in regulation, Napier had 26 points and the Huskies beat No. 22 Florida State 78-76 in overtime in the consolation game of the Battle 4 Atlantis on Saturday.
”I’m proud of our kids,” Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said. ”Boatwright doesn’t get much play, but he has an awful lot of courage. He didn’t know if he was going to play today or two months from now. Our two freshmen made UConn feel healthy about ourselves. You want them to get their feet wet, but they just jumped in.”
Boatwright’s three foul shots tied it at 71. He finished with 14 points and three assists in 33 minutes.
”I knew everyone thought I was going to miss those,” Boatwright said of his trip to the line. ”The way I grew up I had pressure every day, in a single-family home with my mom. My grandfather always used to say pressure was my middle name.”
Jeremy Lamb added 19 points for Connecticut (6-1), which shot 48 percent from the field, including 11 for 25 from 3-point range. Andre Drummond had 12 points, 10 rebounds, seven blocked shots and three steals.
Michael Snaer scored 20 points for Florida State (5-2), which lost 46-41 to Harvard on Friday. Deividas Dulkys had 14, and Bernard James finished with 11 points and 14 rebounds.
James’ three-point play gave the Seminoles a 76-75 lead in overtime, but Napier made his sixth 3-pointer of the game to put the Huskies back in front with 1:08 left.
Napier also had five assists, four rebounds and two steals one day after he committed seven turnovers and went 1 for 7 from the field in a 68-63 loss to Central Florida.
But Napier thought Boatwright provided the biggest lift for the Huskies.
”He was the missing piece of the puzzle we needed,” he said. ”To have him beside me is the best I can hope for. We rode the boat today.”
Florida State’s Luke Loucks missed a 3-point attempt and two free throws in the final minute of OT, and Snaer missed a 3 at the buzzer, giving Connecticut the win.
”It’s a shot I feel I would normally have made,” Snaer said. ”I had a pretty good look but couldn’t finish it.”
The Huskies led 63-58 with 8:32 left in regulation but the Seminoles battled back. James had a dunk and Xavier Gibson made a 3-pointer to tie it at 65.
Connecticut blew a 17-point lead in the second half of its loss to Central Florida.
Calhoun’s team appeared to be headed to another frustrating loss before Boatwright made those free throws at the end of regulation. Snaer then missed a last-second jumper, sending the game to overtime.
”Before Boatwright’s free throws, I was banking on him missing that,” James said. ”I was surprised he even got fouled. The refs don’t usually make a call like that with the game on the line. I figured he’d miss at least one a freshman.”