No. 10 UConn beats Washington 82-70
SEATTLE -- Midway through the first half, C.J. Wilcox hit two 3-pointers to give Washington a 14-point lead over No. 10 Connecticut and the crowd at Alaska Airlines Arena was roaring and an upset seemed in reach.
Then UConn came out after a timeout and took control, gaining the lead before halftime and going on to an 82-70 victory Sunday.
"We had the opportunity to put our foot on them, but we let them go," Wilcox said.
Once Connecticut made its run, Washington had no answer. Although UW fought to keep the game in reach even after UConn built its own 14-point lead in the second half, Washington never mounted a serious charge.
"Right now we're not mature enough to handle runs from the other team. We're not mature enough to handle the adversity that comes up during the season," UW coach Lorenzo Romar said.
Shabazz Napier scored 15 of his 20 points in the second half and grabbed six rebounds to lead Connecticut (10-1). Fellow guard Ryan Boatright had 16 points and five rebounds and Lasan Kromah scored 14 points in the first true road game of the season for UConn.
"They did a good job controlling the game," Romar said. "I thought we played excellent basketball for about 12 minutes in the first half. But the game is 40 minutes, not 12."
UConn changed its starters after going with the same lineup for the first 10 games of the season. Amida Brimah started at center, replacing Phillip Nolan. Brimah dunked on the game's first possession and had four points and three rebounds. Nolan responded to the change, coming off the bench to tie his season highs with eight points with five rebounds.
Connecticut was coming off its first loss of the season, 53-51 to Stanford at home Wednesday. In that game UConn was 5 of 31 from the field and 0 for 12 on 3-pointers in the second half. The early going against Washington wasn't much better as Connecticut missed its first six shots from behind the arc as UW built a double-digit lead.
Wilcox's 3-pointers gave UW a 31-17 lead with 7 minutes to go in the first half,
"Wilcox is a great shooter," Napier said. "There's only so much you can do. He hit a 3 in front of me and Amida and Lasan all at the same time. He did a great job."
Those shots, however, seemed to give the visiting Huskies a wakeup call.
"It gave us a little sense of urgency when they started getting up by 10 and 13," Napier said.
UConn answered with a 15-2 run, including a stretch of 10 straight points. Connecticut took the lead for the first time since the opening minutes when DeAndre Daniel's layup made it 39-37 with 1:46 left in the first half, and UConn led 43-39 at halftime.
Connecticut scored the first six points of the second half to push the lead to 10 points, and then used a nine-point run to pull away to 62-48 with 11 minutes to play. Washington wasn't able to make a run to get back into the game.
Washington turned the ball over 16 times to UConn's 15, but Romar thought UW's were more damaging, including four in just over 3 minutes to start the second half.
"I think the turnover story was probably the biggest difference in the game," Romar said. "They have a lot of quickness, a lot of quickness out front, they anticipate well and we didn't do a very good job of taking care of the basketball."
Connecticut's long-range shooting improved after the dismal start, as UConn finished 4 of 12 behind the arc and 28 of 51 (54.9 percent) overall from the field.
One of the largest cheers from the home crowd came 6½ minutes into the game, when junior forward Desmond Simmons checked in. It was Simmons' first appearance since having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Nov. 7. Simmons hit the first 3-pointer of the game to put UW up 17-10 but got into foul trouble and finished with five points.
"He gave us energy right away when he came in the game," Romar said.
Washington will host Mississippi Valley and Hartford before opening Pac-12 play with road trips to Arizona State and No. 1 Arizona.
"We better grow up really quick," Romar said.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
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