Quick Hits: Men’s basketball struggles on senior day; Ice Bus season ends; Women’s basketball advances to American championship

This weekend in UConn Huskies sports, the men’s basketball team endured another tough loss, the men’s hockey team’s season came to a close and the women’s basketball team made their way to another championship game. All that and more on this week’s edition of Quick Hits.

Men’s basketball struggles mightily on Senior Day

Amida Brimah (#35) dunks in UConn's loss to Cincinnati on Sunday March 5, at Gampel Pavilion. (Amar Batra/The Daily Cmapus)

The UConn men’s basketball team took on the No. 18 Cincinnati Bearcats Sunday afternoon on Senior Day. The Huskies were, in fact, led by their seniors in scoring on the day as Rodney Purvis, Amida Brimah and Kentan Facey finished with 15, 11 and eight points, respectively. Unfortunately, that was not nearly enough for UConn against this Cincinnati team, which took the lead early and never looked back.

Although the Huskies made a run towards the end of the first half to bring the deficit within single digits, Mick Cronin and the Bearcats locked up the UConn offense, limiting them to just 31.3 percent shooting from the field and just 16.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc. It was a truly fitting end to a struggle of a regular season. With the loss, the Huskies fell to 14-16 (9-9 the American) and will have to win four straight games in the conference tournament if they want to make it to the NCAA tourney. That’s the only chance they have.

Ice Bus season comes to a close with first round exit to Northeastern

Northeastern's Brendan Collier shoots at UConn goaltender Adam Huska in NU's 6-2 win over UConn at Matthews Arena in Boston, Massachusetts.. (Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog)

The UConn men’s hockey team fell in a best-of-three series to the rival Northeastern Huskies in the opening round of the Hockey East conference tournament. Playing on the road for the entire series, UConn fell behind 2-0 in the first game on Friday night, before freshman Benjamin Freeman got one back with just over one minute remaining in the third period. Head coach Mike Cavanaugh pulled the goalie in hopes of getting the equalizer in the dying embers of the game, but Northeastern took advantage of the empty net and scored an insurance goal to take a 1-0 series lead.

On Saturday night, the Huskies from Storrs gave a good fight, cutting the Northeastern lead to 3-2 toward the end of the second period. Unfortunately, a five-minute contact to the head penalty on senior Evan Richardson really hurt UConn’s chances at extending the season. Northeastern scored three goals on the ensuing powerplay to make it 6-2 and effectively ended the Ice Bus 2016-2017 season. Read the series recap here.

Women’s basketball advances to AAC championship game; Samuelson, Collier Co-players of the year

The women’s basketball team achieved great success this weekend, defeating both Tulsa Golden Hurricane and UCF Knights to advance to the American Athletic Conference championship game on Monday night, which will take place at Mohegan Sun Arena at 7:00 p.m. UConn will take on the winner of USF and Temple in the finals.

The quarterfinal matchup against Tulsa was one of the Huskies’ best performances of the year. UConn achieved the 100-point mark for just the third time this season with help from six players in double figures, including a game-high 24 points from Napheesa Collier. The Huskies led by as much as 48 in the closing stages of the game on their way to a 105-57 win. You can read that recap here.

UConn guard Katie Lou Samuelson looks to pass during the Huskies' 78-56 win over UCF in the AAC semifinals on Sunday afternoon at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville. Samuelson had 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists for UConn. (Jackson Haigis/The Daily Campus

Prior to the tournament, Collier was named American Co-Player of the Year along with teammate Katie Lou Samuelson. The two sophomores were among the conference’s leading scorers and were a huge part of the Huskies incredible undefeated regular season.

UConn had a somewhat difficult test in the semifinal game, matching up against UCF. The Knights only trailed by four going into the second quarter and went into the second half down a respectable 37-25. While their defense was solid, the Huskies shot rather poorly in the first half, going 38.7 percent from the field. They would play more up to their standard in the second half, however, and earned a convincing 78-56 win over UCF. Read the semifinal recap here.

Honorable Mention

UConn football stars Noel Thomas and Obi Melifonwu participated in the NFL Combine this weekend and will continue to go through the combine process in the coming days. Thomas, a wide receiver, has the hands that scouts love to see and rarely drops passes thrown his way. Thomas could end up being a mid-to-late round pick if he performs well in front of the league executives, especially in the vertical jump and 40-yard dash drills.

On the other hand, Melifonwu is a strong safety with incredible burst and solid tackling ability. Plus, Melifonwu has the NFL body and the potential to shine in all the measurables at the Combine. Some say Melifonwu could be as high as a first round pick, but he will most likely be drafted in either the second or third round.


Chris Hanna is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at christopher.hanna@uconn.edu. He tweets @realchrishanna.