Friars Come Up Big At XL Center

"They physically and emotionally took away our ability to compete and that was the basketball game," UCONN coach Jim Calhoun said following the Friars 77-65 victory Thursday at the XL Center in Hartford .

The win marks the seventh straight occasion in this series in which the visiting team has been the victor. "We couldn't do anything. They did everything they wanted," he added.

To win, the Friars needed to play a complete game. Their last two road games included a series of mental lapses. That was not the case Thursday night. They came out of the gate early, firing on all cylinders. They challenged shots, crashed the boards, and knocked down key shots.

The Friars hit a season-high 14 three pointers. Dwain Williams, in particular, was spectacular, shooting an impressive six of nine from the outside, piling in agame-high 23 points. He hit from seemingly every location on the floor. Brian McKenzie was perfect from three-land, hitting all four shots on his way to a 20-point night. In all, the Friars shot 58% from behind the arc.

The Huskies, on the other hand were not as stellar. After knocking down two of eight in the first half, things got worse after the break. It took them until nearly the final minute of the second half to hit a three pointer. Their misses from outside along with the Friars rebounding were the source of their demise.

The first half was a battle complete with three ties and three lead changes. Neither team established control early on. The Friars did what they needed to do – they came out strong. They never let the Huskies take a large lead. At the half, the Friars trailed 34-32.

They made their necessary adjustments. In the first half, UCONN dominated the game in the paint, out-scoring the Friars 22-8. In the second half, they clamped down in the middle, making it much more difficult for a pass to get in or a shot to go up. The Huskies big men who did put something up down low often were met with a hard Friar foul. They were then forced to the perimeter, where they were again contested. Overall, UCONN shot an abysmal 8-33 from the floor in the second half.

The Friars, on the other hand, at points could not miss. They were patient, made the right passes, and found open shots. At times, they had two or even three three-point shooters on the floor. This certainly posed a problem for the Huskies.

Every rebound was a prize. The Friars, who were by far the smaller team, crashed the boards all night. As a result, both teams finished about even, 39-38, UCONN with the slight advantage. Particularly, this caused problems for the Huskies in the second half, when they rarely had a second-chance look. "We couldn't match size, but we did match toughness," said Welsh.

An important half time adjustment took the Friars out of the press. Though it has become a major part of their game plan, it was not working Thursday night. (We needed to)"get out of the press of they'd blow us out of the building," said Friars coach Tim Welsh. This allowed them to slow UCONN's fast-break offense, and changed the flow of the game.

Geoff McDermott had another complete game for the Friars. McDermott had 12 points, 11rebounds 6 assists, and 4 steals, playing all but one minute of the game, on his way to another double-double. As has been the case a lot this year, he played every position on the court. "He played Center and Point Guard with tremendous confidence. He's a vicious competitor and I love the kid he is just a winner," said Welsh.

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