Suffocating perimeter defense and a 3-point happy offense helped UConn jump out to a 29-point halftime lead and coast to a 88-73 victory over Fordham Friday at the XL Center.
STAR OF THE GAME: Ryan Boatright scored nine points in the first five minutes and only got better from there. The sophomore guard finished with a career-high 26 points to go along with nine assists and three steals. He torched Fordham on both ends, turning steals into breakaway layups (or dunks) during the early onslaught.
KEY TO THE WIN: Everything started on the defensive end for UConn, which pickpocketed the Rams 10 times in the first half, totaling 21 points off turnovers and 21 on fastbreaks. A 26-8 run in the latter stages of the opening period turned Friday’s game into an absolute rout.
*Shabazz Napier hasn’t looked for his shot often in the past few games, but he’s been remarkably efficient. The 6-foot-1 junior played the role of facilitator early and finished with 19 points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals on just 11 shot attempts.
*Fordham went on a 15-0 run early in the second half to cut the lead to 63-50, but UConn answered with back-to-back steals and layups by R.J. Evans and Boatright.
*Evans, who sat out three of the last five games with a sternalclavicular sprain, gave the Huskies a boost off the bench. He drilled his first 3-pointer of the year—and one of eight UConn daggers from deep in the opening half—and contributed nine points and three steals.
*UConn’s backcourt—- Boatright, Napier, Omar Calhoun and Evans — accounted for 71 of the team’s 88 points. At one point, the foursome had 59 points and the entire team had just 67.
*Enosch Wolf got the start at center but only registered nine minutes. Tyler Olander, struggling for most of the year, tallied five points and six boards in 17 minutes.