HARTFORD, Conn. - University of Connecticut junior guard Shabazz Napier (Roxbury, Mass.) scored 11 of his 27 points in overtime as the Huskies beat Cincinnati 73-66 on Thursday night before a crowd of 11,131 at the XL Center. UConn improves to 18-7 overall and 8-5 i the league -- good for sixth place in the league. The Bearcats fall to 19-8 overall and 7-7 in the BIG EAST.
Sophomore center DeAndre Daniels (Los Angeles, Calif.) added 17 points and tied a career high with four blocked shots for the Huskies.
Sean Kilpatrick had 13 of his 18 points after halftime and JaQuon Parker added 14 for Cincinnati, which lost for the fourth time in five games.
The teams were tied a 55-55 before Napier hit two three-pointers as part of a 6-2 UConn run to open overtime. A layup by Kilpatrick made it 63-60, before Napier buried his third with a minute left. Jermaine Sanders layup cut the lead to four with 43 seconds left and the Bearcats began to foul. UConn made seven of eight free throws down the stretch. Boatright and Daniels each hit a pair and Calhoun made one of two, before Napier sealed it with a pair. Titus Rubles and Justin Jackson each fouled out in overtime for Cincinnati.
A 10-2 run, sparked by a three-pointer by Kilpatrick, had given the Bearcats a 53-47 lead with just over four minutes to play in regulation. The Huskies then scored the next six as a free throw by Napier tied the game at 53-53 with 1:30 left. Rubles hit a put-back to give the Bearcats back the lead, and Napier tied it again on an off-balance driving layup with 40 seconds left.
Wright turned the ball over in the back court setting up the final shot, but Napier missed a contested layup, sending the game into overtime.
UConn was 10-of-19 from three-point range and had six three-pointers in the first half, as it built a 37-34 halftime lead. Cincinnati, meanwhile found its success inside, with 34 points in the paint. The Bearcats outrebounded UConn 44-28 and had 17 offensive boards.
UConn had given up 20 offensive rebounds in each of the last two games, leading to a combined 36 second-chance points. The Bearcats had 17 on Thursday.
A Rubles foul shot cut UConn's lead to 43-41 with 17:23 left in the game and it stayed that score for the next seven minutes, until a Rubles banked in a long two-point jump shot to tie it.
UConn missed seven straight shots and was held without a field goal for almost nine minutes before a dunk by juniro center Tyler Olander (Mansfield, Conn.) gave them a 45-43 lead. The Huskies had just three baskets in the first 13 minutes of the second half.
The Bearcats had hit five of their first eight shots in the game and held Boatright and Napier scoreless over the first 5 minutes. Napier got the pair going by hitting consecutive three-pointers to give UConn its first lead at 13-11. He and Boatright combined for 18 first-half points, after scoring just six in the Huskies loss to Villanova on Saturday.
The Bearcats guards, Cashmere Wright, Kilpatrick and Parker, average just over 42 points per game, and had 42 Thursday. UConn's trio of Boatright, Napier and freshman Omar Calhoun (Brooklyn, N.Y.) came in averaging 43 points and had 46. Calhoun had injured his right wrist in Saturday's loss to Villanova and played with that hand wrapped. His first points came on a goaltending call and he took just three shots, scoring 10 points.
Cincinnati came in looking for its third consecutive 20-win season. They have lost four of their last five games, including a 62-55 setback at home to Georgetown. The teams will play again on March 2 in Cincinnati.
UConn returns to action on Saturday at 8 p.m. Eastern when they travel to DePaul. The game is being televised by SNY and heard on the UConn IMG Sports Radio Network.