CINCINNATI—With Shabazz Napier sidelined, UConn’s offense sputtered down the stretch and the Huskies fell to Cincinnati, 61-56, Saturday at Fifth Third Arena.
The two teams traded turnovers — UConn’s crucial one on an R.J. Evans inbounds pass with 20 seconds left — and Ryan Boatright was whistled for a backcourt as the Huskies, down three, attempted to tie.
A Ryan Boatright layup cut the Cincinnati lead to 57-55 in the final minute. After a JaQuan Parker miss on the other end, Phil Nolan was fouled over-the-back. He missed the first attempt, but sank the second.
STAR OF THE GAME: Sean Kilpatrick launched 13 of the Bearcats’ 31 3-point attempts, but hit a few big ones to help Cincinnati take a second half lead. He finished with 20 points, stole an inbounds pass in the final 20 seconds and knocked down two free throws to extend the lead to 59-56.
KEY TO THE WIN: Cincinnati, just 3-for-15 from deep in the first half, made six of its first 10 attempts in the second to open a 51-39 lead. The Bearcats began the second half on a 22-8 run.
*Napier, ruled a game-time decision Friday, did not play. He sat on the bench in an old UConn warmup with a walking boot on his sprained right foot. The injury was suffered on the first possession of the second half against Georgetown Wednesday.
*Two Boatright free throws at the 2:19 mark brought UConn within two points, 55-53. Boatright struggled for the floor (4-for-13), but made 14-of-15 free throw attempts.
*A DeAndre Daniels 3-point play cut Cincinnati’s lead to 53-50 with 5:10 remaining. Daniels, the star versus Georgetown, put together another strong game, totaling 18 points and eight rebounds.
*It took Cashmere Wright nine shot attempts to finally sink one, but his straightaway 3-pointer early in the second half completed an 11-1 Bearcats run, which briefly gave them a 35-31 lead. Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin was assessed a technical foul shortly after, and the Huskies evened it up.
*Phil Nolan, receiving increased minutes off UConn’s short bench, turned in a career-best performance: eight points and seven rebounds. With UConn trailing throughout the second half, Ollie opted to for Nolan instead of starter Tyler Olander.