No. 14 UConn will be in search of a fourth consecutive win when DePaul visits Hartford, Conn., to begin the final week of the Big East regular season on Wednesday night.
The Huskies (22-7, 11-7 Big East) rose four spots in this week’s AP Top 25 following an 87-69 home win over then-No. 20 Providence on Feb. 22 and then a 95-86 triumph over St. John’s on Saturday in New York.
The latter victory was UConn’s sixth in a span of seven games, including four wins over teams the Huskies lost to last month: the Friars, the Red Storm, Marquette and Seton Hall.
Saturday also marked the Huskies’ best offensive showing during conference play. UConn shot 51.7 percent while scoring 50 points in the first half, building a lead that would never be lost.
“I was impressed by the way that we played offensively,” Huskies coach Dan Hurley said. “Just making shots and looking like a team that has some real offensive punch.”
One of UConn’s three January wins came against DePaul (9-20, 3-15), raising the Huskies’ record in the all-time series to 16-1. The lone Blue Demons win came in 2007.
Jordan Hawkins had a team-high 26 points, Adama Sanogo added 25 and nine rebounds and Tristen Newton scored 21 points as UConn was a 90-76 winner on Jan. 31 in Chicago.
Last time out against St. John’s, Hawkins scored 20 points and Sanogo added 18, but it was a 32-point explosion from the bench that ultimately decided the outcome.
“That bench, with Donovan (Clingan) and Joey (Calcaterra), resembles more like November or December,” Hurley said. “Every day we’re further away from January.”
Calcaterra hit three 3-pointers on his way to tying his season-high mark with 15 points. Clingan had nine points, six rebounds and five blocked shots.
“Hopefully this is a springboard for Joey to get a little bit of swagger back, some magic and mojo,” Hurley said. “We’re formidable, getting this bench going and getting these guys feeling good about themselves.”
The Blue Demons have lost 10 straight games, but they were resilient in a 90-84 Saturday loss to Big East Player of the Week Tyler Kolek and Marquette in Milwaukee. DePaul cut a 21-point halftime deficit down to six before the Golden Eagles clinched at least a share of the league’s regular-season crown.
DePaul’s Nick Ongenda logged his first career double-double with 16 points and a career-high 12 rebounds while adding five blocks and three steals.
The senior center, who missed the season’s first 25 games due to injury, led five double-figure scorers as DePaul posted its highest point total and field-goal percentage (51.7 percent) of the Big East season.
Umoja Gibson paced DePaul with 20 points, his ninth time scoring 20 or more this season. He also dished out eight assists.
“They’re a resilient group, but you just can’t dig yourself a 21-point hole on the road against a team as good as Marquette,” DePaul coach Tony Stubblefield said. “You have to exert so much energy to even get back in the game that it’s really hard to overcome.”
–Field Level Media