John F. Silver
The Huskies, a size-challenged team, was leading N.C State on the glass too.
Howell woke up. So did N.C. State.
Howell scored 11 points and added 10 rebounds in the second half as N.C. State controlled the inside as it dominated the backboards on its way to a 69-65 win before about 11,840 fans at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night at the Jimmy V Classic.
The Wolfpack held a 20-13 lead in the second on the boards as it secured a 37-33 advantage.
“The first half their rebounding killed us,” Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried said. “We did a lot better in the seocond half not getting second shots.”
The Wolfpack (5-2) had four players in double figures led by Lorenzo Brown and C.J. Leslie with 16 while Howell and Scott Wood added 13 each.
The Huskies received 19 points from Shabazz Napier, but 15 were in the first half. Napier was only 1-of-5 shooting in the second half for four points. Ryan Boatright added 18 points for the Huskies. Center Enosch Wolf added 12 points and nine rebounds in a career performance off the bench for the Huskies.
The Huskies lost for the second time this season as it was unable to control Howell and Leslie inside giving up 42 points i the paint, 24 of the coming in the second half including 16 second chance points in the final 20 minutes.
The games tied at 53-53 with a little over five minutes to go when the Wolfpack took control. Leslie hit a pair of free throws Howell had a tip-in and Leslie added a dunk for a quick 6-0 run for State to take a 59-53 lead. The Huskies would get no closer than three points the rest of the way as North Carolina State had all the answers.
A 3-pointer by Boatright made it 61-58 with 1:46 to play before Howell was fouled while scoring a layup. Howell missed the free throw but N.C State tracked down the rebound. With 49 seconds left Napier fouled Brown who made one free throw to increase the lead to 64-58. It was too much for the Huskies to overcome.
“We showed some toughness and are getting better at different things,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. “I wouldn’t say they out-toughed us, they made more shots and made more winning plays.”
Boatright, who shook off a poor start to add six rebounds and four assists in 36 minutes thinks it was another game that got away.
“We missed a lot of shots we normally make,” Boatright said. ”We let it slip away. 50/50 balls and not executing…we did that, that’s stuff we could control.”
The Huskies got off to a quick start and led by as many as 11 in the first half as a barrage of 3-pointers shocked the Wolfpack. Napier had 10 points in the first five minutes and added 15 points in the first half on 5 of 9 shooting. He finished 1 of 5 from the floor in the second half and went entire possessions without touching the ball in the second half.
“I felt like, looking back, I was not as aggressive,” Napier said. “We didn’t run through our plays with the same intensity.
“I wasn’t as aggressive as much and was trying to get a lot of people going.”
Wolf had a terrific game at an opportune time, but the Huskies struggled after him outside of Boatright and Napier. DeAndre Daniels played with a stiff back and could only manage seven points and one rebound with four turnovers. Tyler Olander continued to struggle with fouling and production as he managed zero points on zero shots and only three rebounds. Niels Giffey was 0 for 1 and 20 minutes while R.J. Evans returned from a chest/shoulder injury with a 2 of 8 performance in 19 minutes. Lastly. Omar Calhoun, the Huskies third leading scorer, had five points on 1 of 5 shooting.
The Huskies fall to 6-2 on the season and will host Harvard on Friday before taking a 10 break for exams.