Jalen Adams rallies Huskies in return Page C1
HARTFORD — UConn trailed at halftime and couldn’t regain the lead for the first 17 minutes of the latter half, trailing by as many as nine points with 5 1⁄2 minutes to play. Visions of Wagner or Northeastern were likely dancing in the heads of the 5,431 at the XL Center.
“A lot of people in the arena probably thought we were gonna lose,” coach Kevin Ollie acknowledged.
Then, Jalen Adams happened.
Adams, in his season debut after being suspended from the Huskies’ opening game, scored all 19 of his points in the second half and almost singlehandedly led UConn to a 72-64, comeback victory over Stony Brook on Tuesday night.
“Jay stepped up,” said Ollie, “and was the leader and the All-American that we know he is.”
Ultimately, it wasn’t pretty. But it was a win for UConn. A win the 2-0 Huskies don’t get a year ago. In fact, they didn’t, losing their first two games of the season, at home, to the aforementioned Wagner and Northeastern.
“We definitely wouldn’t have won that game last year,” said Ollie. “This team right here just shows the resilience and the heart. We don’t want to be in those situations, but to show that we can come back and play UConn basketball was a great feat for our guys.”
After a Tyrell Sturdivant 3-pointer with 5:37 left, the Seawolves (0-2) had a 62-53 lead and the home crowd was understandably nervous, even booing.
Freshman Tyler Polley countered with a trey, and it was all Adams after that. The junior guard scored six straight points, on a pair of drives (the latter giving UConn its first lead since 4:57 left in the first half ) and a jumper to put the Huskies up for good.
Stony Brook didn’t score again until a harmless hoop with 15 seconds left.
After missing all five of his shots in a scoreless first half, Adams went 8-for-11 in the latter.
“My teammates know I’m pretty good on the pickand-roll,” he said. “They were kind of telling me to do my thing, and if I get in
any trouble, they’ve got my back.”
Alterique Gilbert added 14 points for UConn, Terry Larrier 12 and Antwoine Anderson 10, including a wing jumper with 1:02 left that put the Huskies up five.
Stony Brook held a 31-25 lead at the break after canning five of its first eight 3-pointers. The Huskies, meanwhile, missefired on their first five attempts from beyond the arc and were just 2-for-10 at the break.
It didn’t help that Larrier picked up two quick fouls and spent the last 15 minutes of the half on the bench. Or that the Huskies couldn’t get out on the break at all, despite rebounding the ball pretty well.
Or that Adams and Christian Vital combined to shoot 1-for-10 from the floor.
It didn’t get much better through much of the second half, until Jalen Adams happened — and the Huskies won a game they wouldn’t have won a year ago.
“I can’t even compare last year’s team to this year’s team,” said Adams. “This is just a whole different team. I think this team just runs off of energy. As soon as somebody brings high energy, everybody just feeds off it.”
After sitting out all three exhibition games and the Huskies’ season-opener against Colgate with a hip injury, David Onuorah made his UConn debut on Tuesday. The 6-foot-9 grad transfer came in and immediately made his presence felt on the boards, grabbing four rebounds in his first three minutes of action and finishing with a team-high seven overall.
“It felt good just to finally be out there,” said Onuorah, who sat out all but one game last season at Cornell. “I was anxious, excited to be out there, and just thankful for the opportunity.”
Onuorah injured his hip prior to UConn’s exhibition game against Providence a few weeks ago and had been held out of practice until Monday.
“Today was the first day I really thought, ‘Wow, I’m here,’” Onuorah said.
Said Ollie: “He was getting every rebound, he was playing with energy, setting phenomenal screens. That’s how Jalen was getting open on some of those plays. He’s a very smart player, but he plays with juice. I thought his juice was phenomenal today.”
UConn’s Jalen Adams makes a basket over Stony Brook’s UC Iroegbu (1) during the second half Tuesday in Hartford. The Huskies trailed by nine points before Adams led the comeback.