UConn Beats Washington 61-53
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie signed a long-term contract Saturday, then walked onto the court to a standing ovation and watched his team improve to 10-2 with a fourth straight win.
“It was a good day in my life,” said Ollie.
Shabazz Napier scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds to help Connecticut over Washington 61-53 on Saturday in the final nonconference game of the year for both teams.
Omar Calhoun led UConn with 14 points and Ryan Boatright added 12 to help the Huskies to their fourth consecutive win.
Scott Suggs had 15 to lead Washington (8-5), which lost for the first time in five games.
UConn’s win came hours after Ollie agreed to a new 5 1/2-year contract worth just under $7 million. Ollie had been coaching under a one-season deal that he signed after taking over from Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun in September.
“We got excited for him, and we wanted to give him his first career win as UConn’s new long-term head coach,” said Napier.
Ollie said his legs were shaking during the standing ovation as the student section chanted his name.
“I was excited for the moment,” he said. “I just never thought it could happen for a guy out of South Central Los Angeles, to be up here at UConn and be a head basketball coach.”
UConn held Washington star C.J. Wilcox to just five points on 2-of-12 shooting. Wilcox, who came in scoring more than 19 points per game, had scored 20 or more in three straight games and seven of the Huskies’ last eight. He had scored in double figures in every game this season.
“C.J. had some looks that he normally doesn’t miss,” said Washington coach Lorenzo Romar. “A lot of his shots were contested early, then after that he had some wide open looks that he couldn’t get to go down. But that wasn’t just C.J.It seemed like it was the story of our team tonight.”
Connecticut held Washington to season lows in points and field goal percentage at 29.7 percent (19 of 64). Washington hit just 4 of 17 3-pointers.
UConn also outrebounded Washington 40-36. Connecticut had been outrebounded in 10 of their first 11 games by an average of over six rebounds per game.
“We were just trying to hit first,” said Enosch Wolf, who finished with nine boards. “I was just trying to get every ball that I could. That was my mindset going in.”
Connecticut stretched a five-point halftime lead by scoring the first seven points of the second half to go up 38-26. Its 15-2 run was capped by a 3-point shot by Napier from the corner.
UConn pushed that lead to 14 on Omar Calhoun’s layup with 15 minutes to play.
But Shawn Kemp Jr. had a layup, a dunk and a blocked shot to help close that gap to 48-44 and force a UConn timeout with 8:15 to play.
Washington stayed within five before jumpers by Boatright and Omar Calhoun stretched it back to nine with just over 3 minutes left and put an exclamation point on the game with an ally-oop dunk from Omar Calhoun to the 7-foot-1 Wolf.
A layup by Wilcox cut the lead to six with 32 seconds left, but Omar Calhoun hit two free throws on the other end to seal it.
“We worked hard the whole year just for (Ollie) to get this bonus deal,” Omar Calhoun said. “He definitely deserved the extension, so I’m happy for him.”
Washington had jumped to an early 16-10 lead as UConn missed some early free throws, including four on one play.
Those were shot after Aziz N’Diaye picked up a technical foul for kicking Omar Calhoun after fouling him on a drive to the basket.
Despite the missed free throws, UConn went on an 11-0 run, highlighted by a steal and double-clutch layup from Napier, to take a 21-16 lead.
But Connecticut missed all seven of its first-half attempts from 3-point range and Washington stayed in the game despite having both N’Diaye and Abdul Gaddy in foul trouble. Gaddy picked up his third foul with just under 4 minutes left in the half and ended up fouling out.
Washington trailed Connecticut 31-26 at halftime.
Washington fell to 1-2 in Connecticut this season. They beat Seton Hall and lost to Ohio State in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament in nearby Uncasville in November.
They dropped to 2-13 in games played in the Eastern Time Zone under coach Lorenzo Romar.
UConn visits Marquette for its Big East Opener on New Year’s Day, while Washington opens the Pac-12 season at Washington State on Jan. 5.
The game was played in front of a crowd thinned by a storm that was expected to dump more than eight inches of snow on Hartford Saturday evening.
Jim Calhoun, who retired in September, missed his first game this season, vacationing in Florida. Ollie said he tried to reach his mentor by telephone on Saturday to tell him about his new deal.
“I think he’s on the 14th hole in Miami,” Ollie said. “But wherever he is at, I know he’s got a great big smile on his face.”