The UConn men’s basketball team picked up a crucial victory, their first of the 2016-17 season, in California Thursday night as they topped Loyola Marymount 65-62. The Huskies moved to 1-2 with the win, although the night was severely hampered by an injury to freshman guard Alterique Gilbert, who dislocated his left shoulder in the first half.
The Huskies opened with a slow start offensively, as they did in their first two games against Wagner and Northeastern. UConn scored just five points in the game’s first 5:40, as the Lions jumped out to an early lead. The Huskies struggled at the free throw line to start the game.
UConn’s offense sprung to life around the midway point of the first half, going on an 18-4 run to take a 32-22 lead with 5:46 left in the half. Gilbert was one of many different Huskies that fueled the run, as he finished the half with a team-leading 10 points on 3-for-4 shooting.
Unfortunately for the Huskies, Gilbert injured his left shoulder in a physical play with 51 seconds remaining in the half, causing the freshman guard to remain on the ground for a while in clear and significant pain. He had surgery on the same shoulder this past offseason.
According to UConn, Gilbert dislocated his left shoulder on the play. He left Thursday’s game and would not return.
The UConn offense hit another roadblock after that run, scoring just two points over the remainder of the half as Loyola tied the game at 34 heading to the halftime break.
The Lions retained some of their momentum, extending their run to 20-4 as the Huskies sought to find offensive rhythm without Gilbert. UConn allowed Loyola to hit multiple wide open three-pointers, although they were able to answer with long range shots of their own.
The teams traded missed shots for much of the second half, with Loyola taking a 60-58 lead with 3:50 remaining in the game. The biggest shot down the stretch came from Terry Larrier, who hit a layup with 2:22 left to put UConn up 63-62. Jalen Adams sealed the game with a pair of free throws with 20 seconds left.
Larrier led UConn with 14 points on 6-for-12 shooting. Amida Brimah finished with nine points and 10 rebounds. Kelvin Amayo led the Lions with 18 points on 5-for-12 shooting, including a 8-for-11 mark from the free throw line.
UConn will be back in action Monday, as they take on Oklahoma State in the opening round of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational in Maui, Hawaii. The other six participants in the Maui Invitational are North Carolina, Chaminade, Georgetown, Oregon, Wisconsin and Tennessee.
The Huskies and the Cowboys will tip off at 9 p.m. ET at the Lahaina Civic Center.