John F. Silver
UConn was dominated on the boards 55-24, gave up 32 points on the free-throw line and had three players foul out against Providence.
Naturally, the Huskies won.
It’s UConn and Providence and Thursday’s game at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center was the theater of the absurd at times.
Omar Calhoun’s 3-pointer from the right wing in overtime broke a tie and UConn managed to defeat Providence 82-79.
It was a wild game at the Dunk with UConn leading by as many as 15 in the first half before Providence got going. Providence’s +31 margin rebounding was the most since St. John’s did that in a 66-62 win over Seton Hall in 1997. The Huskies managed to win on Thursday despite it.
The Huskies got 19 points from Ryan Boatright, 18 each from DeAndre Daniels and Shabazz Napier (8 in OT) and 13 points from Calhoun to improve to 14-5, 4-3 in the Big East.
The Huskies survived late as a last second shot by Bryce Cotton rimmed out in what would have made it a second overtime. Vincent Council had 15 points and 10 assists while Kadeem Batts led the Friars (10-11, 2-7) with 20 points. Cotton had 18 and LaDontae Henton had 15.
The game featured 66 combined free throws, had five players foul out, and saw the Huskies get dominated on the boards like rarely has been done.
Providence held a 23-4 edge in offensive rebounding but shot only 33.8 percent from the floor. UConn, in contrast, was 27 of 54 shooting.
The Huskies and Providence have a history of wild and weird games and Thursday’s was no different. Napier scored eight of his 18 in overtime and after Calhoun’s 3-pointer went 3 of 4 from the foul line in the final 40 seconds.
The Huskies snapped a 6-game losing streak at the Dunk and head into Sunday’s Super Sunday game against South Florida at Gampel on a two game steak.
There are a lot of red flags for the Huskies, noticeably inside where Tyler Olander had two points and zero rebounds while sick while Enosch Wolf continued to be a foul machine for six points and five rebounds. Phil Nolan even played 10 minutes, but also didn’t grab a rebound. The pivot played 42 minutes and totaled eight points and five rebounds with three players.
The Huskies ended the game with essentially five guards on the floor with Boatright, Napier, Calhoun, RJ Evans and Niels Giffey.
It was enough for a win, and whatever problems that remain didn’t cost the Huskies on Thursday night.