The UConn Huskies didn’t finish pretty against Maryland in Friday night’s 78-77 victory at the Barclays Center, but Kevin Ollie wasn’t going to give back the win afterwards. UConn almost lost a 17-point second half lead, which it held with 11:52 remaining, but the Terps never got closer than a point.
“If we win by half a point or 40 points, a win is a win,” Ollie said. “And that’s a good Maryland team we beat over there and they are just going to keep getting better.”
BIG SHOT: Tyler Olander didn’t play a minute in the first half, but with several big men in second-half foul trouble Ollie called his number. The 6-foot-10 senior answered the call with nine solid minutes off the bench. He also hit what turned out to be the game-winning shot, making a 3-pointer with 1:59 left that gave UConn a 78-73 lead.
“I just got into rhythm, didn’t think twice about it and shot it,” said Olander, who admits he finds more comfort playing outside. “My stats, I don’t really care. We won and that’s the most important thing to me. … I’d rather not play and win then have double-doubles and keep losing.”
A PROUD CAPTAIN: Napier spent the final 3:15 on the bench after fouling out, but he was pleased with the way his team played down the stretch, especially the freshmen Terrence Samuel and Amida Brimah.
“I felt a lot of confidence in my team,” Napier said. “Terrence, who’s a freshman, I told he he should love to be in this position. Everyone comes to Connecticut to be in this position – two minutes in the game up by one point – and you should love that. He embraced it and I think he did a good job. Amida did a good job and the guys the last two minutes did a heck of a job, and that’s what you need is a supporting cast.”
Even though Samuel, who came in to help the backcourt with Napier, out and Brimah missed free throws in the final 13 seconds, both came up with big rebounds.”
OPPOSING VIEW: Maryland coach Mark Turgeon on losing to the Huskies:
“We lost to a really good team tonight. Those guards are terrific and we didn’t have an answer. It felt like whatever they tried seemed to work.”
“This would have been a great win because I think Connecticut is going to win a lot of games. I think they are a little undervalued because those guards are so good and they make big plays.”