PAT EATON-ROBB,Associated Press
STORRS, Conn. (AP) — Shabazz Napier scored 24 points and hit three 3-pointers in overtime, leading Connecticut to a 69-64 win over South Florida.
Ryan Boatright added 17 points for the Huskies (15-5, 5-3 Big East) who overcame a 12-point halftime deficit to win their third consecutive game.
Toarlyn Fitzpatrick scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for South Florida (10-11, 1-8), which dropped its fourth straight.
South Florida held the Huskies to just five first-half field goals and led 27-15 at the half.
But the Huskies matched their first-half output 3½ minutes into the second half, going on a 15-2 run after intermission to take the lead.
Napier missed a long 3-pointer that would have won the game in regulation, but responded with two straight to open the extra period.
Connecticut, which shot just under 30 percent from the floor for the game, hit just five of its 27 shots in the first half.
But the Huskies scored 10 straight points to open the second half, a run highlighted by a steal and layup from Napier that made it 27-23.
A 3-pointer from Boatright gave Connecticut its first lead of the half at 30-29 with 16:49 left. It was the Huskies’ first lead since the game was less than three minutes old.
South Florida didn’t let UConn separate. Fitzpatrick’s fourth 3-pointer put the Bulls back in front at 39-36. His spinning layup led to a conventional three-point play that put the Bulls ahead 48-47.
Connecticut regained the lead, 51-50, when Napier was fouled and hit both ends of a one-and-one, and Boatright hit 1 of 2 to give the Huskies a 52-50 lead with 26 seconds left.
Collins hit a driving layup with 11.6 seconds left to tie the game, setting up a final play for UConn. Napier got a good, straight-on look from about 23 feet but missed, sending the game into overtime.
South Florida missed its first three shots in overtime before a dunk by Victor Rudd made it 58-54. But Napier responded with his third straight 3-pointer, and South Florida was forced to foul.
Boatright, who hit just 3 of 11 shots from the floor, hit two to give the Huskies a 63-56 lead. Niels Giffey hit three and Napier’s pair with 18 seconds left made it 68-61.
A 3-pointer from Fitzpatrick made it 68-64. He had five for the game and was eight of 17 from the floor.
UConn didn’t have a rebound until the game was almost four minutes old.
The two teams combined to miss 12 of the first 17 shots from the field and the game was tied at 7 at the media timeout with just under 12 minutes left in the half.
But Fitzpatrick, hit four of his first six shots, including three from 3-point range. He led the Bulls on a 13-3 run that broke a 10-10 tie. He will tie the program record for most games played when the Bulls host Marquette on Wednesday.
South Florida prevented UConn from getting into its transition offense, and when it did the Bulls were back on defense. Rudd’s emphatic block of a dunk attempt by DeAndre Daniels seemed to fire up the Bulls.
Boatright hit just three of his 11 shots from the field but scored in double figures for the 14th straight game, hitting eight of his 10 free throws.
South Florida outrebounded UConn 43-41 and forced 10 Huskies turnovers. But the Bulls had 14 of their own, including nine in the second half and overtime.
The Bulls came in at the bottom of the Big East offensively, averaging just 53 points in conference play.
Connecticut improved to 10-1 against South Florida, including 7-1 in Big East play.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.