In front of 9,029 fans the UC Bearcats (10-6, 0-3 Big East) fell to the Uconn Huskies (14-1, 3-1 Big East) by the score of 81-72. After a couple of bad losses to start off conference play the Bearcats were looking for a ray of hope to springboard some momentum off of.
"We made some strides and played hard," said junior point guard Deonta Vaughn "We made them work for every shot that they had. We can build on this, go to practice on Monday and just keep working hard."
The Game started out well enough for Cincinnati as they won the tipoff, but they couldn't come up with the first points and they would never see the lead. Uconn lead the entire game and held leads by as large as 12.
UC held tough though and battled back and pulled the score to even five times throughout the game. The back breakers again were long ranged three point shots, the biggest of which were two in a row by A.J. Price right before the half that gave the Huskies a 38-34 lead heading into the locker room.
Price lead all scorers with 22 points and 5 assists, and was helped by double digit performances by fellow guard Jerome Dyson with 12, forward Jeff Adrien 13, and off the bench Craig Austrie with 11. UC was lead by Deonta Vaughn who had 19 points and 6 assists. Helping the scoring were Mike Williams who contributed 14, and Yancy Gates with 12.
This was the fourth straight game that the Bearcats have given up 80+ points, and it is also their fourth straight loss. They put everything they had on the court offensively but the inexperience of the younger players, especially down low with Gates and Toyloy, cost them the victory. Uconn outscored UC 34-24 in the Paint and 15-11 off of second chance shots.
"There are no moral victories but at the end of the day we competed physically, we gave our best effort, and it just wasn't enough today." Cronin went on to say "But we still struggled defensively, part of that was the opponent, part of it was our inexperience. It was not a lack of effort today. I thought our effort was tremendous."
Cronin stated that the only thing to do from here is to get better. He stated that practices have been shortened so help provoke a higher intensity atmosphere. He said that if the players did not come to compete every day than they would be kicked out and go home.
After the loss Cronin was optimistic, and excited to get back into practice and prepare for the next game.
"This is something to build on, no question. We know how many games it takes to make the NIT, and how many wins it takes to make the NCAA. There is no rule that says you have to win the first three to make the tournament."
UC will take on Rutgers on Wednesday at 7:30 at the Shoe. The ‘Cats are on a four game skid and a win vs Rutgers at home would be huge heading into a three game road trip.
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