STORRS, Conn. - Sophomore gaurd Ryan Boatright (Aurora, Ill.) scored 23 points, including a key three-point play in overtime, as the University of Connecticut men's basektball team finished its season with a 63-59 win over Providence on Saturday before a soldout crowd of 10,167 at Gampel Pavilion. UConn finishes the year with a 20-10 record and 10-8 in the BIG EAST for first year head coach Kevin Ollie.
Following the game, the Huskies were honored with a postgame ceremony to honor the perseverance of this year's Husky team. Director of Atheltics Wadre Manuel presented Ollie and the etam with a plaque to remember this team, which will eventually be hung in the team lockerroom of the UConn Basketball Development Center. A groundbreaking for that facility will be Tuesday, April 16, 2013.
Sophomore center DeAndre Daniels (Los Angeles, Calif.) added 19 points and junior guard Shabazz Napier (Roxbury, Mass.), playing despite an injured right foot, chipped in with 16 points as UConn earned its 20th win. Daniels and Napier each had eight rebounds.
Kadeem Batts had 14 points and 12 rebounds for Providence, who is 17-13 and 9-9 in the BIG EAST, and Kris Dunn added 11 before fouling out in the extra session.
The teams were tied before Boatright's fade-away basket with 19 seconds left, which drew a foul on Bryce Cotton. The free throw gave the Huskies a 62-59 lead. Cotton missed a three-point shot on the other end and Napier sealed the win with a free throw.
Napier gave UConn the lead to open overtime with a fade-away jumper, and Boatright hit two foul shots to push the lead to four. Connecticut's defense kept the Friars without an overtime point until Fortune hit a put-back to cut the deficit to 59-57 with 1:32 left. LaDonte Henton hit two foul shots with 46 seconds left to tie it, setting up Boatright's big play.
Providence opened the second half on a 10-2 run, taking its first lead of the game on a Dunn layup that made it 36-34. After going nine for 25 in the first half, the Friars hit seven of their first 11 in the second. A three-pointer by Josh Fortune pushed the lead to 43-39.
Boatright gave UConn a 47-46 advantage with a short jumper and the teams went back and forth from there. Boatright's two free throws with 32 seconds to play tied the game at 55. Providence held for the last shot, but Daniels blocked Henton's base-line jump shot with a second to play, sending the Huskies to their seventh overtime game of the season. They improved to 5-2 in those games.
Napier led the Huskies on an early run, scoring five quick points as UConn jumped out to a 10-5 lead. Batt's, Providence's big man, didn't touch the ball in the paint until midway through the half. His layup cut UConn's lead to 17-14, but the Huskies used a 7-0 run, highlighted by a three-pointer form Daniels, to push the lead back to 10, and led by six, 32-26, at the half.
Daniels, who averaged 22 points over the Huskies last three games, had 12 points at intermission
Providence, which opened 2-7 in the Big East, came in having won seven of its last eight games and three in a row.
The Huskies played this one short-handed. Junior forward Niels Giffey (Berlin, Germany), the Huskies' top player off the bench, broke his right index finger in the next game, a 61-56 loss at Cincinnati, and is out for the season. Center Tyler Olander (Mansfield, Conn.) followed him to the training room on Wednesday, breaking his left foot in the 65-51 loss at South Florida.
Freshman guard Omar Calhoun (Queens, N.Y.), who had been playing despite a sprained right wrist, was in a soft cast Saturday and also on the bench in street clothes.
Napier had been listed as questionable for the game after missing the last two with a foot injury suffered in UConn's double-overtime loss to No. 7 Georgetown.
"It'll be my favorite group forever - how they battled, played with each other, nobody expected anything but the guys in this locker room," Olllie said.