In this – the season of process over results – it’s important to find the positives in defeat. For forty-five minutes last night, UConn played with energy and effort against a Big East opponent. Shabazz Napier dazzled. Ryan Boatright showed flashes of dominance. Omar Calhoun and DeAndre Daniels each hit clutch shots. The Huskies never relented – even while facing a double-digit deficit in the second half. On national television – in theory with potential recruits watching from their living rooms – UConn showed enough to dim the echoes of chaos that have plagued the University’s athletics department for much of 2012.
They also lost.
Marquette’s Junior Cadougan abused the Huskies for 18 points – including a game-tying three at the second half buzzer to send the game to overtime. Davante Gardner added 18 points off the bench for the Golden Eagles – going 10-10 from the free throw line certainly helped. Marquette also outrebounded UConn (surprise!) by a 41-31 margin.
Napier was the star for the Huskies. When few things were going right for UConn, Napier took matters into his own hands, finishing with a career-high 29 points to accompany his 4 assists and team-leading 8 rebounds. Boatright added 16 points and 6 assists as the backcourt mates showed why they may be the best guard tandem in the conference.
Despite all of the above, this game will be remembered solely for an officiating error. After Cadougan’s heroic buzzer-beater, the two teams took the court to begin overtime. As they did so, they faced the wrong baskets. UConn won the tip. Boatright dropped a bounce pass to Napier on a beautiful backdoor cut. Napier floated a layup off the glass. Goaltending was called. No points were allotted. Marquette was given the ball.
The reaction of Husky Nation: “What the hell just happened?”
After Napier’s floater was taken off the rim, the referees realized their initial error of lining the teams up wrong, and compounded it by ignoring the rule book (Rule 5, Sect. 1, Art. 3) which clearly states that UConn’s points should have counted, the teams should have turned and faced the correct direction, and Marquette should be granted the ball as if the original play happened correctly. It’s worth noting that Marquette was given the ball under their own hoop – instead of the opposite baseline – and immediately scored.
The play may not have had an impact on the end result of the game, but it certainly swung momentum. It also is another sad chapter in a lifetime of poor Big East officiating – but that’s a longer conversation for another day.
Once again, Tyler Olander played poorly. He finished with 3 rebounds and 3 points – and seemed to be the lightning rod for a UConn fanbase eager to assign blame for the team’s rebounding woes.
Niels Giffey played with a lot of energy off the bench. He finished with 5 points and 7 rebounds before fouling out in the waning moments of the game.
DeAndre Daniels finished in double-digits again with 11 points but only mustered 1 rebound. He was sidelined for a significant amount of the second half after taking a blow to the chin that seemed to open the stitches he earned in the Washington game on Saturday.
We asked prior to the game if Olander and Enosch Wolf could best the 7 combined rebounds Alex Oriakhi and Andre Drummond pulled down against Marquette a year ago. Wolf pulled down 7 all by himself – rendering a sorry performance by last year’s squad even more pathetic in hindsight.
Via UConn: “Shabazz Napier scored 11 straight points for UConn to knot the score at 57 with 7:26 remaining in the half.”
UConn will face off with DePaul on Tuesday, January 8th at Gampel. Tip is just after 7pm and will be shown on SNY.