The Queens College Knights were completely overmatched Sunday evening at Gampel Pavilion, but they couldn’t have imagined a start as poor as the one they endured.
UConn men’s basketball came out hungry for the first time under a new roof at Gampel, scoring the first 28 points in their final exhibition tune-up of the 2017-18 season. At the under-8 timeout of the first half, Queens had yet to make a field goal while turning the ball over 18 times.
“Our pressure was real good. It got us going,” UConn head coach Kevin Ollie said after the game. “One thing we’ve been doing, we’ve been turning teams over.”
The Huskies put on a strenuous full court press, and the Queens ball handlers were overwhelmed by UConn’s energy as well as their length and talent. Multiple live ball turnovers led to easy dunks, with Mamadou Diarra and Terry Larrier among the beneficiaries.
“I think the energy was great from start to finish,” UConn guard Christian Vital said after the game. “When we lock in on defense the way we can, and the way we are supposed to, I don’t think many teams are going to be able to stop us.”
Vital was very impactful Sunday. He scored 18 points on 6-for-11 shooting, with a 4-for-8 mark from 3-point range after shaky shooting nights in the first two exhibition games. The sophomore guard also added seven rebounds and two steals.
“He was making shots today,” Ollie said of Vital’s efforts. “I still don’t like the antics out there [after] he makes every shot…but he just plays hard. He’s never not working. He’s always in every play.”
Ten different Huskies recorded steals as the team finished with 15. The Knights turned the ball over 28 times while attempting 56 field goals, leading to 42 UConn points off turnovers.
The Huskies won’t meet an opponent as weak as Queens this season, but the level of dominance in their 100-43 win has to inspire confidence as the team rolls towards their regular season opener Friday at Gampel Pavilion.
UConn has looked better in each game as they integrate a plethora of new contributors. Josh Carlton and Alterique Gilbert were some of the most impressive Huskies Saturday, and everyone will get a chance to play a role this Sunday.
“We have a day off tomorrow and then three great chances to get better, and then the fire’s going to start with Colgate,” Ollie said.