No. 19 UConn beats New Hampshire 85-66
STORRS, Conn. (AP) UConn turned to its perimeter game on Tuesday with its big men in early foul trouble and New Hampshire playing nothing but zone defense.
Sterling Gibbs responded by scoring 21 points and Rodney Purvis added 20 to lead the 19th-ranked Huskies to an 85-66 win over the Wildcats.
The two guards were a combined 10 of 19 from behind the arc, each getting five of the Huskies 13 3-point baskets.
''They were packing the zone in so much that they were daring us to shoot,'' said Gibbs. ''Then when we were able to show that we could knock it down, it kind of loosened the zone a little bit.''
Sophomore Daniel Hamilton added 13 points and 11 rebounds for the sixth double-double of his career. He also led the Huskies with six assists.
Tanner Leissner had 20 points to lead New Hampshire (1-1) and Pat McNamara chipped in 14 points.
UConn led by 10 points at halftime, opened the second half on a 12-5 run and extended the lead from there.
UConn shot 52.6 percent from the floor and 48 percent from behind the arc (13 of 27) while holding New Hampshire to 36 percent shooting. They also outrebounded the Wildcats 40-30.
The Huskies have won 92 of the 117 meetings between these New England schools.
New Hampshire's Leissner, the 2014-15 America East Conference Rookie of the Year, led his team on an 11-3 run that gave the Wildcats a 16-15 lead midway through the first half.
They never led again.
New Hampshire was playing without guards Daniel Dion and Joe Bramanti, who were suspended for the first three games of the season for violating team rules. Coach Bill Herrion said that forced him to use the zone defense in an attempt to keep the rest of his players out of foul trouble
''We're a man-to-man defensive team,'' Herrion said. ''We usually have great defensive numbers. That's kind of what we hang our hat on. But we were short-handed. We just had to roll the dice.
UConn's Hamilton, Amida Brimah, Philip Nolan and Shonn Miller spent much of the first half on the bench after they each picked two fouls. The Huskies had 10 fouls by halftime and were using a three-guard lineup, relying on the 3-point shot to take control of the game.
They made eight of their 12 3-point attempts in the first half. Gibbs had four of those and hit six of his seven first-half shots.
The Huskies struggled with zone defenses a year ago, and Ollie said he expects to see a lot of them again this season.
''It's really going to prepare us,'' he said. ''To shoot 52 percent against a zone the whole night, being early in the season, it was great.''
Gibbs' fourth 3-pointer gave the Huskies a 39-29 lead at intermission. It looked like the Huskies would get a chance to extend that lead, but after a lengthy delay to watch replays, the officials decided that Purvis was fouled on a drive after the halftime buzzer.
With their big men back, UConn scored the first three baskets after intermission and ran away from New Hampshire.
A 3-pointer by Purvis gave the Huskies a 69-48 lead with 9 minutes left and the Huskies cruised from there.
New Hampshire, which has four starters back from a team that won 19 games a year ago, was coming off an easy 82-45 win over Division III Lyndon State in its season opener.
UConn: The Huskies are 80-7 in Gampel Pavilion in non-conference games, but lost three times to out-of-conference opponents at the on-campus arena last year, falling to Texas and Yale during the regular season and ending the 2014-15 campaign with a loss to Arizona State in the NIT. Before the loss to Texas, UConn had won 44 straight non-conference games in Storrs.
New Hampshire: Coach Bill Herrion is a win shy of tying William Cowell for second place on the school's all-time wins list. He is 118-182 in his 11 seasons as the Wildcats head coach. He is still 67 behind Gerry Friel who won 185 games during his 20 years at New Hampshire.
BLOCKS: The Huskies blocked seven shots after getting 15 blocks in their season-opener against Maine. Brimah led the way with three blocks after putting up a career-high nine blocked shots against the Black Bears. He led the nation last year with 121 blocks.
UConn: The Huskies face Furman Saturday in the on-campus portion of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, before heading to the Bahamas to face Michigan a week from Wednesday.
New Hampshire: The Wildcats travel to Worcester, Massachusetts on Thursday to face Holy Cross.