Dec. 17, 2012
HARTFORD, Conn. - University of Connecticut freshman guard Omar Calhoun (Brooklyn, N.Y.) scored a season-high 22 points and sophomore guard Ryan Boatright (Aurora, Ill.) had 21 points and the Huskies shot a season-high 66 percent in an 84-50 win over Maryland-Eastern Shore at the XL Center on Monday before a crowd of 8,841. UConn improves to 8-2 on the season while UMES is 0-10.
It was UConn's first game since the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on Friday. A pregame ceremony was held with 26 candle-bearing members of the UConn pep band, cheerleading squad and dance team with the Husky players for a moment of silence and the national anthem.
"We just wanted to make sure we came out here and put on a good show for the crowd and stick together as a team, and play for everybody that was in that tragedy," Calhoun said.
As a tribute to the victims at Sandy Hook, UConn players wore patches on the front of their jerseys with the white letters "SH" on a green background - the elementary school's colors.
Boatright had the letters "SH" on his left cheek. Junior guard Shabazz Napier (Roxbury, Mass.) wrote the number "26" on his right sock and "SH" on his left. Maryland-Eastern Shore guard Louis Bell had "S.H.E.S. Newtown, CT" and "12-14-12" - the date of the incident - on the back of each sneaker.
"It was heartbreaking just to know what happened to those kids," Boatright said, adding he and teammate DeAndre Daniels (Los Angeles, Calif.) have been watching the news all week. "I've got two baby sisters that I've just seen that are the exact same age as the kids at the elementary school. It was a humbling experience and all my prayers go out to all the families."
UConn players attended a vigil on Sunday night at the Mansfield Community Center and hed coach Kevin Ollie said the team will plan to visit Newtown at some point in the future.
"We're going to go down there and have a good practice or whatever they want us to do," Ollie said. "We're going to be available for them and hopefully bring a smile or two to their faces."
Calhoun, Boatright and Napier were a combined 20 of 25 from the field and made 9 of 11 3-point attempts. UConn finished 10 of 19 from beyond the arc. Daniels scored 13 points and Napier had 11 point and eight assists for the Huskies.
Bell scored 12 points for the Hawks and Ron Spencer had 11. Maryland Eastern Shore shot 38.5 percent and had 16 turnovers.
"The first half, we hung in there pretty good," coach Frankie Allen said. "We ended up outrebounding them (30-26) for the game but they didn't miss many shots. That's a little deceptive."
Boatright scored 13 points in the first half and UConn shot 62.5 percent to take a 39-27 lead. Calhoun and Boatright combined to score 15 of the team's first 17 points in the second half. Boatright's steal and dunk capped a 15-0 run that pushed the lead to 65-33 with 11:44 remaining.
"Omar and Ryan have been doing extra work," Ollie said. "Our guards have been doing extra work. I know it's ball movement, but you still have to make the shot."
UConn returns to action on Friday when it takes on Fordham at 7:00 p.m. at the XL Center. The game will be televised on SNY and heard on the UConn IMG Sports Radio Network.