UCONN HOLDS OFF MUSTANGS

by Dan M | Posted on Friday, February 19th, 2016

SMUvsUConn

BY: Dic Humphrey

SMU fell into a second place tie with Connecticut in the American Athletic Conference race when the Huskies handed the Mustangs their fourth loss in the last seven games. The Ponies played UCONN a tough game at the XL Center in Hartford Thursday night, but the Huskies held off the Ponies’ late charge to prevail 68-62. Amida Bramah led Connecticut with 16 points, a game high, but more importantly, he blocked five shots and altered SMU’s ability to score inside. SMU fell to 21-4 and 9-4 in American Conference play. UCONN, fighting for an NCAA berth, is tied with SMU at 9-4 in conference play and improved to 19-7 overall.

Connecticut led for more than 29 minutes in the contest to less than two for SMU. Still it was a nip and game as the Mustangs stayed close because of their three point shooting. SMU made 7-13 from beyond the arc.

“I thought we defended well enough,” SMU Head Coach Larry Brown said in his post-game radio interview. “Bramah affected the game on both ends. We had a hard time scoring in the paint. You can credit the big kid (Bramah) for that.”

SMU scored a three point basket to open the game for their largest lead on the evening. It quickly became a tight game for the balance of the half, with Connecticut leading most of the way. The Mustangs rallied for a 7-2 run to tie the game at 31 at intermission.

It was much the same in the second half. UCONN finally pushed the lead to nine points, their largest of the game with 4:45 left. The Mustangs however, closed within two points at the 1:05 mark. From there, the Huskies were able to hold off SMU’s final thrust.

Free throws were a problem for SMU. With their inside game, they usually get to the charity stripe often. However Thursday night, the Mustangs shot just 10 and made just five. Two of those misses that really hurt came from Markus Kennedy in the last minute of the game when SMU trailed by four points.

Four Mustangs scored in double digits. Nic Moore led the way with 14 points. Ben Moore had his second outstanding game in a row as he recorded a double-double by pulling down a game high 12 rebounds to go with 13 points. Shake Milton and Sterling Brown had 11 points each.

Daniel Hamilton with 14 points and Shonn Miller with 12 joined Bramah as double digit scorers for UCONN. The Huskies bench outscored shorthanded SMU 14-4 as Jarrey Foster and Markus Kennedy each scored just two points.

Temple now leads the conference race at 10-3. SMU and Connecticut trail by one game at 9-4. Cincinnati, Houston and Tulsa are tied for fourth place with 9-5 records.

There are now just five games remaining in the season for the Mustangs. Three are home games, including Sunday afternoon’s 1:00 PM (Central) tilt against the East Carolina Pirates. ESPN News is televising. The Mustangs easily handled the Pirates in the first meeting between the teams on January 10, pasting ECU by a 79-55 score.

AND ALSO:

  • SMU is 5-2 all time against Connecticut, with the Huskies winning two of the last three meetings, all played at the XL Center in Hartford.
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