Boatright's 23 points lead UConn over East Carolina 65-52
STORRS, Conn. (AP) UConn's slashing point guard Ryan Boatright understands that teams are going to try and take away his ability to drive to the basket, leaving him with some open looks from 3-point range.
The senior made a career-high seven of those on 10 attempts Wednesday night, scoring 23 points as the Huskies snapped a two-game losing streak with a 65-52 win over East Carolina.
''A lot of guys are going under screens on me and giving me a little too much room,'' he said. ''I've been in the gym putting up a lot of reps and a lot of shots from the 3, just because I know those are the shots that they are going to give me.''
Boatright's other two points came from the foul line and he finished 7 of 13 from the field.
Rodney Purvis added 10 points for UConn (12-9, 5-4 American Athletic Conference) and Daniel Hamilton had nine points and 11 rebounds.
B.J. Tyson had 20 points to lead East Carolina (9-13, 2-7), which was coming off a 50-46 win over Cincinnati but has now lost four of its last five and seven of nine. Caleb White chipped in with 11 points.
The defending national champions trailed by 10 points late in the first half, but went on a 17-0 run into the second half to take a 41-34 lead. They used another 17-0 second-half run to take a 60-44 lead and put the game away.
East Carolina was held scoreless for the first six minutes of the second half and more than seven minutes during the Huskies' second run.
The Pirates made eight of their 13 attempts from behind the arc in the first half and shot better than 54 percent from the floor. But UConn held them to 33 percent shooting after intermission.
''We missed some open looks that we were making in the first half and we're not a strong offensive rebounding team either,'' said ECU coach Jeff Lebo.
East Carolina tried to deny UConn baskets in the paint. Michel-Ofik Nzege picked up two of three Pirate fouls called in the first two minutes for pushing the Huskies 7-foot center, Amida Brimah, as he attempted to get position for lob passes.
The Pirates kept Brimah from scoring until the second half, and UConn continued what has become a pattern of slow starts. The Huskies hit just two of their first 10 shots from the floor and ECU jumped out to an early 13-6 lead.
UConn used an 11-3 run to go ahead 17-16, capped when Kentan Facey rebounded a missed free throw by Terrence Samuel and laid the ball in.
East Carolina trailed 22-20 before a pair of 3-pointers by White sparked a 14-2 run. UConn cut the deficit to 34-27 when Boatright made a 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer.
''I'm not worried about the first half,'' said UConn coach Kevin Ollie. ''I just really love our second-half effort and we are just going to keep going to the drawing board and mix lineups and come out and play UConn basketball.''
East Carolina: The Pirates are winless on the road this year, losing those eight away games by an average of 18.2 points
UConn: This was the 13th time this season that the defending national champions trailed at intermission. They are now 4-9 in those games.
East Carolina: The Pirates head home for a pair of games, facing UCF on Saturday and Memphis next Tuesday.
UConn: The Huskies head back on the road, traveling to New Orleans to face Tulane on Saturday.