It wasn’t pretty, but the No. 24 UConn Huskies were able to salvage something from their weekend road trip, taking down St. John’s 63-60 on Sunday after falling to No. 25 Xavier 74-68 on Friday.
The first game of the weekend started out easily enough, as the Huskies were able to compete in an exciting, back-and-forth affair. A dagger three by Musketeer Nate Johnson at the halftime buzzer gave Xavier a three-point lead and a lot of momentum heading into the break. Surrounded by a crowd of over 10,000 fans, the Musketeers took their lead and increased it to 10 by the 13-minute mark of the second half. This deficit would prove to be too much for the Huskies, who never reclaimed the lead.
Xavier had a very successful game offensively, thanks to forwards Zach Freemantle and Jack Nunge. The Huskies had no answers for this big man duo, as they were able to combine for 34 points on 11-for-20 shooting and grab 18 rebounds. On the night, Xavier shot a very efficient 49% from the field, including 60% in the second half. The Musketeers were able to avoid real foul trouble, so the starters all were able to play at least 30 minutes of game time.
On the other end, UConn was unable to keep its fouls in check. While Xavier limited themselves to 15 fouls, the Huskies forced a whistle a whopping 23 times. RJ Cole and Adama Sanogo both finished the game with four fouls, and Andre Jackson fouled out late in the second half.
The Huskies certainly had their opportunities to win the game, but were hindered by a couple technical fouls down the stretch. The first came thanks to head coach Dan Hurley, who argued against a reach-in foul call on Tyrese Martin that appeared to be just a tipped ball. Hurley went so far as to explain his thought process, defending his stance that it was a bad call postgame. Thankfully for the Huskies, Xavier only scored two points directly from that play, and they were able to get within three points of the Musketeers with 90 seconds to go.