Jan. 18, 2014
STORRS, Conn. - University of Connecticut senior guard Shabazz Napier (Roxbury, Mass.) scored a career-high 30 points but it wasn't enough as UConn fell 76-64 to No. 18 Louisville Saturday in front of a soldout crowd of 10,167 at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. The Huskies fall to 14-4 overall and 2-3 in conference play.
Russ Smith scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half and Montrezl Harrell added 18 points, 13 rebounds and three blocked shots for the Cardinals (16-3, 5-1 American), who won for the fifth time in six games.
The Huskies had no answer for Harrell. The 6-foot-8 sophomore hit eight of his 10 shots and helped the Cardinals to a 45-30 rebounding advantage.
Louisville used a 20-4 second half run to pull away, and then held on.
The game included Kevin Ollie's first ejection as UConn's head coach. He picked up two quick technical fouls in the second half after a no-call in front of the UConn bench.
Louisville led 34-28 at halftime, but UConn erased that deficit in the first 2 minutes of the second half. A 3-pointer by Napier tied the game at 34.
The Cardinals went on a 11-0 run from there, capped by Russ Smith's driving layup and free throw, which made it 45-34.
Ollie was given a technical a short time later. He was upset after official Mike Stuart failed to call anything when Wayne Blackshear and senior forward Niels Giffey (Berlin, Germany) collided in front of the UConn bench as Giffey was shooting. Louisville made two of the four free throws to go up 49-38.
The Cardinals stretched that lead to 54-38 on a reverse layup by Blackshear before Husky senior forward Tyler Olander (Mansfield, Conn.) snapped the run with a layup.
Connecticut began chipping away, and cut the deficit to nine on a tip-in by Giffey with just over 4 minutes remaining. It was down to eight a minute later after a pair of fouls shots by freshman center Amida Brimah (Accra, Ghana), and seven when Napier drained a 3-pointer with 2:38 left.
But Smith made seven points in the last 2 minutes, and Louisville held on.
The Cardinals quickly took control underneath. Ten of Louisville's first 12 points came in the paint.
Harrell hit seven of his eight first-half shots and had 15 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots before the break. A layup by Luke Hancock gave the Cardinals a 21-13 lead midway through the first half.
Napier, who scored more than 20 points for the sixth time this season, kept the Huskies in striking distance. He had 11 points in the half, but the Cardinals went into the break with a 34-28 lead.
UConn junior forward DeAndre Daniels (Los Angeles Calif.), who had scored in double figures in five straight games, sat for most of the first half with two fouls. He finished with just three points.
Brimah had two blocked shots and now has 50 on the season.
Connecticut had won three straight after dropping its first two conference games on the road in Texas to Houston and SMU.
UConn hadn't lost at Gampel Pavilion since being beaten by a point in double overtime by Georgetown last season. The Huskies return to the court Tuesday night when they host Temple at the XL Center in Hartford. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and the game can be seen on CBS Sports Network and heard on the UConn IMG Radio Network.