HARTFORD, Conn. - Junior guardShabazz Napier (Roxbury, Mass.) scored 19 points as the University of Connecticut men's bsaketball team beat Rutgers 66-54 on Sunday before a crowd of 12,768 at the XL Center. The game snapped a two-game losing streak for the Huskies and sending the Scarlet Knights to their third consecutive loss.
Napier, still nursing a bruised left shoulder, also had six assists and pulled down five rebounds for the Huskies (13-5, 3-3 BIG EAST). Sophomore guard Ryan Boatright (Aurora, Ill.) added 15 points and sophomore center DeAndre Daniels (Los Angeles, Calif.) added 13 for UConn.
Jerome Seagears, who averages just 4.5 points per game, scored a career-high 21 points for Rutgers (12-7, 3-5). Eli Carter added 13.
UConn hasn't lost at home to Rutgers in 36 years, and is 18-2 against the Scarlet Knights in BIG EAST play.
The Huskies led by seven points at halftime, but made just two of their first 15 shots after intermission. That allowed Rutgers to go on a 10-1 run, holding UConn without a field goal for the first 5:42 of the second half. A three-pointer from Seagears gave Rutgers a 30-28 lead.
A steal and three-point play by junior forward Niels Giffey (Berlin, Germany) put the Huskies back on top 35-32 midway through the half, and Napier followed that with a long three-pointer. Rutgers came right back as wo free throws by Eli Carter cut the deficit to 46-43. A tip-in from Daniels, followed by his steal and a dunk put the Huskies up by nine at 52-43, and the Huskies cruised from there.
The Huskies outrebounded Rutgers 37-33.
Connecticut fell behind 13-8 at the start, thanks to seven early points from Seagears. The Huskies responded with a 10-0 run, holding the Scarlet Knights scoreless for almost six minutes. The Huskies stretched the lead to eight, despite having Boatright on the bench for all but eight minutes of the half with two fouls.
Napier had nine first-half points for UConn and Daniels added seven as the Huskies went into the break leading 27-20. Napier hasn't missed any time, but his effectiveness had been limited by a bruised left shoulder suffered early in the Huskies' Jan. 14 loss to Louisville. He seemed to be back to full strength in this one, hitting four of his first six shots and grabbing five first-half rebounds.
Boatright and Napier came into the game averaging 32.6 points as a combo. Rutgers' backcourt of Myles Mack and Carter had combined for 28.8. Carter, who came in averaging more than 16 points a game, scored most of his points late. He hit just one shot in the first half and was 5 of 14 from the floor.
The Huskies are back in action on Thursday when they travel to Providence for a 7:00 p.m. game on ESPN2. It will be heard on the UConn IMG Sports Radio Network.