By PAT EATON-ROBB AP Sports Writer
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ UConn’s Jalen Adams says his team is learning how to finish.
Adams scored 31 points, including a floater in the lane in overtime that helped UConn to an 84-81 come-from-behind win on Saturday over Monmouth, the Huskies’ second consecutive overtime win.
Adams shot gave UConn an 81-80 lead with 32 seconds left in extra time. Monmouth’s Micah Seaborn then missed a 3-pointer from the right baseline and Christian Vital hit three foul shots down the stretch to secure the win.
The Huskies were coming off a 77-73 overtime victory Wednesday over Columbia.
“I think we just know that it’s just all or nothing right here and we rely on our defense,” Adams said. “So far, our defense hasn’t failed us in these late moments.”
Adams was 13 of 22 from the floor for the Huskies, including 4 of 7 from 3-point range.
Vital had 19 points and Terry Larrier added 16 points and eight rebounds for UConn (6-2).
Seaborn had 20 of his team-high 27 points before intermission, helping Monmouth (3-5) to a 42-36 lead at the break. He was 10 of 17 from the floor, but made just three shots after halftime.
He and his teammates drew the ire of coach King Rice for their shot selection down the stretch.
Monmouth shot 58 percent from the floor in the first half, 48 percent in the second and 40 percent in overtime.
“We played clean basketball for about 42 minutes then we decided to be heroes,” Rice said. “We got what we deserved, because heroes don’t deserve to be on the basketball court.”
Antwoine Anderson had 10 points for UConn and took a challenge from his teammates at halftime to play lock-down defense on Seaborn.
“I told them, this is my job and I’m going to stop him.”
The Huskies used a 13-0 second-half run to take a seven-point lead.
But Zac Tillman’s layup gave the Hawks a one-point lead with 48 seconds left before Adams tied the game at 74 from the foul line.
Monmouth’s Austin Tilghman missed a 3-pointer and Adams’ desperation shot at the buzzer hit the back of the rim, sending the game into overtime.
Monmouth led by four points after Tilghman’s two foul shots with two minutes to go in overtime.
But a driving layup and free throw by Vital cut that to 80-79 before Adams’ big shot.
“One thing they are learning to do, they are learning how to win,” said UConn coach Kevin Ollie. “That was a big-time win, being four down with two minutes to go in overtime, to pull that one out.”
Monmouth: Seaborn, the team’s leading scorer at better than 13 points per game, was expected to miss some major time after aggravating the injury to his surgically repaired left knee against Virginia two weeks ago. But he came back on Monday to score 13 points off the bench against Albany and played 37 minutes on Saturday.
UConn: Redshirt freshman guard Alterique Gilbert missed his second consecutive game with discomfort in his surgically repaired left shoulder. Ollie could not say when Gilbert might play again, but hinted that another surgery is possible.
“The main person that’s going to make the decision is not going to be us, it’s not going to be UConn, it will be Alterique Gilbert,” Ollie said. “He’s making that decision.”
Forward Eric Cobb, who hasn’t played since Nov. 19 when he suffered an ankle sprain, played just three minutes.
BACK TO BACK
This is the first time UConn has played back-to-back overtime games since the 2012-13 season, when the Huskies beat Providence on the road and South Florida at home.
UConn drew just 6,582 fans to the 15,000 seat XL Center, three days after attracting just 3,808 for their game against Columbia at the 10,000-seat Gampel Pavilion.
Monmouth: The Hawks return home Wednesday to face Hofstra before taking on Kentucky in New York City.
UConn: The Huskies head to New York to play Syracuse on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden in the Jimmy V Classic. That will be the Huskies’ seventh game since Nov. 19.
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