John F. Silver
The Huskies were down 10 with less then five minutes left against Quinnipiac, a Hamden, Conn. based school 50 miles from the Storrs campus.
Shabazz Napier made sure that streak wouldn’t end on the tiny island of St. Thomas.
Napier scored 11 of his 29 points rallying the Huskies in the final minutes of regulation as UConn advanced to the finals of the Paradise Jam with an 89-83 double overtime win over upstart Quinnipiac.
Trailing 55-45, the Huskies ended regulation on a 16-6 run tying the game to force the first overtime on a Napier layup with four seconds left.
Quinnipiac, which defeated Iona in overtime in the first game, had its own heroics in the first overtime as it rallied from a 75-71 deficit in the final 19 seconds forcing the second overtime on a Dave Johnson 3-pointer to make it 77-77. The Huskies took the lead for good in the second overtime on a Napier 3-pointer with 4:19 left and never trailed to improve to 4-0 on the season. The Huskies will take on New Mexico on Monday at 10 p.m. in the final.
The win masked a disturbing game for the Huskies as it once again was beaten on the boards with Quinnipiac holding a 39-29 edge on the boards. It was the fourth straight game –all wins — that the Huskies have been out-rebounded. The Huskies also had a nightmare game shooting 38.3 percent from the floor after heating up late in the game and overtime. UConn’s Ryan Boatright scored 18 points but was only 3 of 14 from the floor and 12 of 13 from the free throw line. Omar Calhoun chipped in with 17.
Napier also had a rough shooting not until late and finished 8 of 23 shooting and 11 of 12 from the free throw line. The Huskies struggled inside with both Tyler Olander and DeAndre Daniels fouling out with Enosch Wolf with four fouls in limited minutes. The best of the bunch inside was Phil Nolan who had six points and five rebounds in eight minutes.
Dave Johnson led five Bobcats players in double figures with 16 points. UConn extended its winning streak over in-state schools to 67 and last lost a school from Connecticut 26 years ago in former coach Jim Calhoun’s first year at Connecticut.