UConn beats Villanova; Coach Hurley Ejected From Game – NBC Connecticut

UConn’s first victory over Villanova in the Dan Hurley era came with the head coach watching the game on television from the back of the arena.

RJ Cole hit a drive floater with 5.9 seconds left, then took a charge from Collin Gillespie at the other end of the field to rally Connecticut’s No. 21 to a 71-69 victory over the Wildcats, eighth, Tuesday evening.

Adama Sanogo scored 20 points and Tyler Polley dumped a 3-point clutch for the Huskies (20-7, 11-5 Big East), who saw their coach ejected from the game in the first half.

Isaiah Whaley added 13 points and Cole had 12 for UConn, which earned its first 20-win season in six years, prompting fans to storm the field at the XL Center.

“We took a step forward,” Cole said. “It was a huge win for us, a huge win for the program, but the season didn’t end today. We have three games left. We have to keep trying to win and put ourselves in a great position for the Big East tournament.

Gillespie had 17 points and Brandon Slater added 15 for Villanova (21-7, 14-4), which had won five in a row and eight of nine.

“They were two great teams that fought back and down the stretch they made plays,” coach Jay Wright said. “We haven’t played the games. It was so close to a game.

Villanova had a four-point lead and the ball with 35 seconds left. But then Caleb Daniels missed the start of a 1-and-1 for the Wildcats, the nation’s best free-throw team, and Villanova was outscored 6-0 the rest of the way.

UConn led by one at halftime and seven early in the second half but couldn’t shake the Wildcats.

A 3-pointer from Gillespie gave Villanova its first lead of the final 20 minutes at 56-54, and the teams went back and forth in the final eight minutes.

Polley’s third 3-pointer in the second half with 21 seconds left put the Huskies up 69-68. Cole then tied up Gillespie in the backcourt to force a turnover, setting up the game winner. Southpaw Cole drove to the basket along the right side and threw a hard, contested shot with his right hand.

Nova had one more chance and Gillespie drove the full length of the field, but straight into a waiting Cole and never got a shot.

“It’s something he’s done all year,” said associate head coach Kimani Young, who has been coaching in Hurley’s absence. “There were no surprises there, but just showing his tenacity, his courage, his will.”

Hurley was ejected from the game after receiving back-to-back technical fouls with just under five minutes left in the first half.

He landed his first for punching the scorer’s table in protest over the lack of an appeal on what he thought was a foul by Villanova. He was ejected from the match seconds later by referee James Breeding after he turned to the crowd and waved his arms in the air, imploring the fans to make some noise.

“It was surreal. I was stunned,” Hurley said. “I guess I’ll wait and see what the Big East (does). ‘explanation.

BIG PICTURE

Villanova: The Wildcats trail only Providence (12-2) in conference standings with two games remaining for the Wildcats, including a home game against the Friars next week. The top five in the regular season get a bye to the first round of the Big East tournament.

UConn: The Huskies’ last win over the Wildcats came in the third round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament en route to the program’s fourth national title. Their last regular season win on the series was in 2012. UConn came into the game having lost five straight to the Wildcats, including 85-74 on Feb. 5 in Philadelphia.

WHEN THE MARKETS ARE DIFFICULT

The victory was the first for UConn in 13 games against a top-10 ranked opponent. The Huskies are 3-3 this season against the top 25 teams.

LOW WATER LINE

Polley and Whaley were on the team in 2018 when the Huskies fell 20 points to Villanova on the same floor, a loss Hurley used when he was hired to show the type of basketball he does. was not going to allow his UConn teams to play.

“It was a big win. I’m not going to lie, it was just awesome, just beating them,” Polley said. “Because, you know, for five years we were getting closer and closer every year. , we just couldn’t get over that bump, but tonight we got over that bump.

FOLLOWING

Villanova: The Wildcats have a week off before hosting No. 11 Providence on March 1 at Finneran Pavilion.

UConn: The Huskies will play last-place Georgetown on Sunday.

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