Jan. 08, 2014
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STORRS, Conn. - University of Connecticut senior guard Shabazz Napier (Roxbury, Mass.) scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half and UConn snapped a two-game losing streak with a 61-56 win Wednesday over Harvard in front of a crowd of 9,218 at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. The Huskies improve to 12-3 overall with the win.
Junior guard Ryan Boatright (Aurora, Ill.) added 14 points and junior forward DeAndre Daniels (Los Angeles, Calif.) had 11 points and eight rebounds for the Huskies, who overcame a five-point halftime deficit to win their final non-conference game of the season.
Siyani Chambers had 21 points, including five 3-point baskets to lead Harvard (13-2), which lost for just the second time this season and the first time in 10 games.
Laurent Rivard added 13 points and Kyle Casey chipped in with 10 points and nine rebounds for the Crimson.
Harvard played the game without the team's star player, Wesley Saunders. Saunders, who was averaging just under 16 points per game had pregame issue with his left knee, and was held out as a precaution.
Harvard led for much of the first half, and 31-26 at halftime. But consecutive 3-pointers from Boatright and Daniels gave UConn a 37-34 lead.
Chambers tied it again with a 3-pointer before UConn used an 11-2 run to take their largest lead of the game at 48-39.
Another Chambers 3-pointer cut the UConn lead to 49-47.
But Napier took over from there. He hit a 3-pointer from the right corner and another from the left wing to give UConn a 55-47 lead with just 1:30 to play.
Rivard converted a four-point play to cut the lead to five points with just 35 seconds left, and made a 3-point play with 16 seconds left to cut the UConn lead to three.
Harvard got one final chance when UConn senior forward Niels Giffey (Berlin, Germany) was called for traveling with 9 seconds left. But Daniels stole a pass and sealed the game with two foul shots.
It was an important win for the Huskies, who fell out of the Top 25 this week after losing their last two games to Houston and SMU on the road. The Huskies led early in the game, but Harvard used a 12-0 run to turn a 10-4 deficit into a 16-10 lead, led by Casey who had six points during the spurt.
UConn scored the next seven points, but trailed 24-20 after back-to-back 3-pointers from Chambers and Rivard.
The Huskies had 11 turnovers in the first 30 minutes, but just four in the second half. Chambers hit a jump shot from the foul line just before the halftime buzzer to send Harvard into the break with a 31-26 lead.
The Crimson have just two winning streaks of 10 games or more in the history of the program. They won 10 straight in 1904-05, and 13 in a row in 1945-46.
UConn has now won 10 straight against Harvard, and 17 of the last 19 meetings with the Crimson. Harvard's last win came in 1972.
"It wasn't the best offensive game," said UConn head coach Kevin Ollie. "But that doesn't matter. We got a win. Now we're focused on UCF and we're going to try to get our first American win. We will if we play like this."
The Huskies return to the court in search of their first conference win of the season this Saturday when they face Central Florida at Gampel Pavilion. The game is set to tip off at 6 p.m. and can be seen on ESPNU and heard on the UConn IMG Radio Network.