Men's Basketball: UConn loses 2 of 3 in Battle 4 Atlantis touranemt

Connecticut head coach Kevin Ollie, center, looks on as his team plays Gonzaga during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Friday, Nov. 27, 2015 in Paradise Island, Bahamas. (Brad Horrigan/Hartford Courant via AP)

After jumping out to a 3-0 start to the season, the UConn men’s basketball team headed to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament over Thanksgiving break.

To open the tournament on Wednesday, UConn overcame a slow start to defeat Michigan 74-60.

The next day on Thanksgiving, UConn was matched up against an old rival: Syracuse. It was the first time the Huskies and Orange played each other since the days of the Big East. It didn’t go well for the Huskies, however. UConn found themselves down by double digits and was forced to come from behind in the second half but they could complete the comeback.

Syracuse defeated UConn 79-76, sending the Huskies to the third place game.

UConn would take on No. 10 Gonzaga in that game, and like the game against Syracuse a day earlier; the Huskies were forced to come from behind.

UConn found themselves down by 21 points in the second half, but they actually cut Gonzaga’s lead to one point. But they once again came up short and Gonzaga hung on to win 73-70.

Here is a bit more on each game that happened in the tournament.

No. 18 UConn 74, Michigan 60

Daniel Hamilton has already flirted with the possibility of a triple-double multiple times in the first three games of the season for the UConn men’s basketball team. In the opening game of the Battle 4 Atlantis against Michigan, he came closer than he ever has before.

The sophomore forward scored a team-high 16 points and added nine rebounds and nine assists to lead No. 18 UConn (4-0) to a 74-60 win over the Wolverines (2-2). 

In the second half alone, Hamilton scored seven points with four rebounds and six assists, including a crucial three-pointer with 1:11 left to play to end an 8-4 run by Michigan and extend the Huskies’ lead to 11.

Four Huskies joined Hamilton with double-digit points. Gibbs and Cassell Jr. added 11 points each, while Shonn Miller and Rodney Purvis scored 13 a piece. UConn finished the night shooting 50 percent from the floor and 40 percent from the three-point line.

Syracuse 79, No. 18 UConn 76

Five Syracuse players scored 13 or more points as the Orange defeated No. 18 UConn 79-76 in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament at Imperial Arena.

Tyler Lydon led the Orange with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije each scored 17.

Once again for UConn (4-1), Daniel Hamilton led the way. The sophomore had a near triple-double for the second straight game finishing with 18 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.

The game was tied 34-34 at half time.

Syracuse would go on a 10-0 run over a 2:05 span in the second half to take a 54-47 lead. Their lead would eventually get to 65-55 with 7:47 left. Syracuse would lead by eight points with 4:42 left.

But then Rodney Purvis started to catch fire. He made his first three of the game with 6:06 left to get UConn within six points. He would hit two more threes to make it 73-71.

UConn would get one more three from Hamilton but that was the only field goal they would have in the final 3:59.

No. 10 Gonzaga 73, No. 18 UConn 70

For the second game in as many days, UConn was forced to comeback from a double-digit deficit. And for the second straight day, the Huskies’ comeback attempt came up three points short. 

Down by as many as 21 points in the second half, the No. 18 Huskies rallied back to get within one point of No. 10 Gonzaga with under two minutes to play. But Rodney Purvis’ three-point attempt at the buzzer was long and the Bulldogs hung on to defeat the Huskies 73-70 in the third place game in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.

Playing their third game in three days, both UConn and Gonzaga looked a bit tired to start the Friday’s game.

The Bulldogs shot 53 percent from the field and 58 percent from the three-point line to lead the Huskies 43-27 at halftime. Silas Melson scored 11 and Kyle Wiltjer scored 10 to lead the Bulldogs at half.

Gonzaga would push its lead to 48-27 with 18:57 left in the game and UConn looked completely out of the game.

But then the Huskies found some legs. The Huskies cut the lead to 55-40 with 13:04 left and they final got it to single digits with 6:32 left after Daniel Hamilton made two free throws.

Freshman Jalen Adams, who scored 10 points, helped ignite UConn’s comeback off the bench. He played 17 minutes and made some crucial baskets when the Huskies needed them along with a few critical plays on the defensive end.

A layup by Shonn Miller made it 71-70 with 2:02 left but the Huskies wouldn’t score again.

An offensive rebound put back by Kyle Dranginis put Gonzaga up 73-70 and that was enough for the Bulldogs to hang on.


Matt Zampini is sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at matthew.zampini@uconn.edu. He tweets @Matt_Zamp.