After the brilliant play of the UConn women’s basketball team against the UCLA Bruins, the UConn men’s basketball team had to take care of business against the St. Bonaventure Bonnies. After a close loss to West Virginia in their last contest, the team needed a win against the eight-win Bonnies. That’s exactly what the Huskies did on Saturday.
In another game without Adama Sanogo and Tyrese Martin, the team was victorious and a big part of that came down to the team’s tremendous defense. UConn locked down St. Bonaventure and held the team to 39% field goal shooting and 11 turnovers. There were plenty of leaders that helped push the Huskies towards victory.
“It was a gutsy performance,” said coach Dan Hurley. “I think we defended the heck out of them. You got some guys to step up and make some big shots.”
Akok Akok was one of the Huskies big defensive stars and had a solid breakout performance against the Bonnies with 12 points, five rebounds and three blocks. The veteran Husky big man was crucial for the team’s all-around strong defense performance.
“He was big time for blocking shots,” said teammate R.J. Cole on Akok’s defensive work. “Him and Isaiah (Whaley) were huge.”
As Cole talked about, Akok was not the only player on the Huskies who played a massive role in the team’s lockdown defense. Whaley was electric again, adding three blocks and two steals for UConn. The forward has undoubtedly continued to prove why he’s a massive part of UConn’s thrilling defense that is ranked fifth in the nation when it comes to blocked shots per game.
On the scoring end for the Huskies, the team had a slow start but overcame adversity to have an overall positive showing. Once again, Cole was a scoring machine for the team as Hurley called the guard a “bad man.” The fifth-year college guard added 15 points and consistently attacked St. Bonaventure for tough finishes in the paint or free throw opportunities.
Polley provided an additional scoring boost for the Huskies, adding 13 points on 37% three-point shooting. His shot will undoubtedly be a crucial weapon for the Huskies as they journey deep into March. However, the late-game shooting of freshman Jordan Hawkins was astounding. The guard had 11 points, and eight points came in the second half, where Hawkins shot two enormous three-point shots.
With the Huskies’ final non-conference game on Saturday, the team enters Big East conference basketball. Their first opponent will be Providence College, and that game will take place next Saturday back in Connecticut at the XL Center. With the news of Sanogo and Martin potentially returning to the lineup on Saturday, Dec. 18, the team could be in even better shape after their last play on Dec. 11. Regardless, a 9-2 record for the Huskies thus far makes the team a strong and formidable foe for any Big East team to face.