--The No. 5 University of Connecticut men’s basketball team captured a 61-55 victory at No. 25 West Virginia at the WVU Coliseum on Tuesday night. Jeff Adrien
(Brookline, Mass.) led all scorers with 17 points while also grabbing seven rebounds. Stanley Robinson
had a game-high 15 boards, helping the Huskies out-rebound the Mountaineers 52-33. Robinson contributed seven points and four assists in the game.
The Huskies led by three with 2:27 left, but WVU’s Daryl Bryant went to the line for two shots after the media timeout. Bryant made both and the Husky led was one, 56-55. UConn ran the shot clock down and Kemba Walker (Bronx, N.Y.) drove the lane and was fouled. He made one of two and the lead was two with 2:00 to go. Alex Ruoff had a jumper go in and out at the other end and Hasheem Thabeet (Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania) rebounded, his 12th of the contest.
UConn’s Craig Austrie (Stamford, Conn.) then was forced into a tough shot and miss, but WVU’s Cam Thoroughman missed the front end of a one-and-one at the other end with a chance to tie the score. Jerome Dyson (Rockville, Md.) then made a floater in the lane with 35 seconds to play to put the Huskies up, 59-55, and West Virginia called time with 29.8 seconds left. The Mountaineers came out of the timeout and Ruoff missed a contested three with under 15 seconds left in the game. Dyson was fouled after Walker secured the board and made both free throws to make the lead 61-55.
UConn led by one with less than eight minutes to play, but back-to-back stops and ensuing baskets helped the Huskies open a 52-47 advantage, the biggest lead of the game at that time, forcing a WVU timeout with 5:58 left in the contest. Adrien and Thabeet both made buckets in that stretch. Ruoff made a tough runner in the lane to get the deficit to three, but Walker capped a wild stretch with a coast-to-coast lay-up to make it 54-49 with under five to go. Ruoff then made a pair of free throws at the other end after he rebounded his own miss and the score was 54-51 with 4:15 left in the game. Adrien then grabbed an A.J. Price (Amityville, N.Y.) miss and banked it in to give the Huskies a 56-51 lead, but Thoroughman converted a fast break to make it 56-53, UConn, which is where things stood at the final media timeout of regulation with 2:27 left in the game
The first seven minutes of the second half featured three lead changes and UConn coach Jim Calhoun was forced to take a timeout at the 13:37 mark as the Mountaineers took a four-point edge, 42-38, after three straight buckets. It matched the biggest WVU lead of the game to that point. UConn responded with a 7-2 run capped by a Thabeet dunk that put the Huskies back in front, 45-44. Both teams traded misses, but Da’Sean Butler hit a three to give the Mountaineers a 47-45 lead with under nine minutes to go. Dyson made a free throw then rebounded his own miss and was fouled, made both, and forged the 12th lead change, putting UConn ahead, 48-47, with 8:15 to play. But Dyson was forced to the bench on the next possession after committing his fourth foul with 8:01 to play.
The game was tied at the halftime when Wellington Smith hit a three-pointer as the buzzer sounded to make the score 29-29. It marked the second game this season that UConn was tied at the half, the first coming in the Huskies only other true road contest, at Buffalo on December 4. UConn shot 28.1% from the field, their worst shooting percentage of the season in any single half. Poor shooting offset a huge advantage on the boards, as the Huskies held a 29-16 edge, including an astounding 15 offensive rebounds in the 20 minutes. Both teams led by as many as four points in the half, with UConn doing so on four different occasions, including the final minute, but the Mountaineers erased a 29-25 deficit, capped by Smith’s three at the final horn. The half featured six lead changes.
Thabeet secured his seventh double-double of the season with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Dyson and Walker joined Thabeet and Adrien in doubles figures with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The Huskies return to action on Saturday, January 10 when they travel to Cincinnati, Ohio to take on the Bearcats of the University of Cincinnati at 4:30 p.m.