UConn 61, New Hampshire 53

Connecticut’s Ryan Boatright drives against New Hampshire during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Storrs, Conn., Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Fred Beckham)

John F. Silver

HARTFORD, Conn.  It was a struggle anyway you look at it for the UConn men’s basketball team against New Hampshire.

The Huskies couldn’t shoot, couldn’t pull away and ultimately held on, barely.

Ryan Boatright scored 19 points and the Huskies managed to outlast New Hampshire 61-53 before a crowd of just over 8,000 fans at the XL Center.

The score was close throughout and the game was a slog from the opening tip. UConn struggled shooting at 37 percent and was 1 of 14 from 3-point range after having made its final eight in a Sunday win over Stony Brook. The Huskies were 18 of 27 from the free throw line and had only 13 assists on 22 baskets with 13 turnovers.

Omar Calhoun scored 16 points on 4 of 11 shooting and 8 of 11 from the free-throw line.

The only worse offensive play came from New Hampshire, which shot 19 of 62 for 32 percent from the floor including only 23.5 percent in the first half.

For the 6-1 Huskies, it wasn’t the kind of progress that head coach Kevin Ollie was looking for. The Huskies couldn’t shoot, ran poor offense and shot poorly. For a team that is used to national recognition and Top 25 caliber play it wasn’t the kind of performance UConn has to come t0 expect.

“Our guys didn’t perform the way we want them perform, but we got a win,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. “I won’t have a pity party. That’s not who I am. We have a win. And, I am not apologizing for it.”

The Huskies led 25-18 at the half and extended the lead to double digit several times in the second half but couldn’t pull away. UConn took a 10-point lead at 36-26 with 12:38 to play in a Boatright jumper, but New Hampshire, which came in with three straight losses, narrowed the lead to 44-40 after a free-throw by Chris Pelcher with 7:12 left. The closet New Hampshire would get was three points on a 3-pointer from Ferg Myrick at 46-43 with 6:10 left.

The Huskies extended the lead to 57-46 with 1:42 left on a three-point play with Calhoun fouled on a jumper. Instead of putting it away, New Hampshire went on a 7-0 run to make it interesting in the final 45 seconds.

Myrick led New Hampshire with 20 points on 7 of 20 shooting.

The Huskies struggled across the board as it couldn’t create any tempo and flow in the game. Tyler Olander had eight points and four rebounds before fouling out in only 16 minutes. Shabazz Napier, UConn’s leading scorer at over 19 points per game had only five points on 2 of 9 shooting.

The Huskies play in the Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden against N.C. State.