by Dan Gardella, @GardellaDan
Mansfield – Coming back from the PK80 Classic in Portland with a 1-2 record that included a 35 point embarrassment is not what University of Connecticut head coach Kevin Ollie had hoped for. The poor play from the Huskies traveled back with them to the East Coast as they narrowly escaped with a 77-73 win in overtime over the University of Columbia Lions in front of 3,808 fans in Gampel Pavilion.
UConn opened the scoring 26 seconds in with a Terry Larrier jumper to give them a 2-0 lead.
They would not lead again until 1:23 left in the second half.
Columbia drained seven of their first ten three point attempts and stretched the lead to 15 with 6:46 left in the first half and took a 41-30 lead into the locker room at halftime. Columbia forward Lukas Meisner had 15 in the first half and finished with 25 points along with 11 rebounds.
“Meisner is a problem at the 4. He can pick and pop, he can put it on the floor” said Ollie.
Connecticut came out of the gates strong in the second half, cutting the deficit to five with 10:28 remaining. However, a quick five point burst by Meisner opened the lead back to 10 with 9:32 remaining.
“Coming back down from 10 points with 10 minutes to go in the game, they toughened it out.” said Ollie praising his team.
UConn needed that one spark to put the momentum on their side to mount the comeback
Insert Mamadou Diarra.
Off the bench, the Redshirt Freshman recorded his first double-double of the season by scoring 11 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in just 20 minutes Wednesday night.
“He’s an energy guy. If you see him in high school, he gets the ball and dunks and gets everybody pumped up. We need him a lot. We saw little flashes of it down in Portland. I’m happy for him” said junior Jalen Adams, who finished with 11 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists.
Led by Diarra and Adams, who had two crucial floaters in the final minute pushed the game into an extra five minutes tied at 65.
From there, it was all Huskies as an Antwoine Anderson three 1:40 into extra time gave UConn a 68-65 lead.
They would not trail again, winning and improving to 5-2.
As for Columbia, their losing streak hits four as they look to rebound Saturday night when they travel to Albany to take on the Great Danes.