UConn ride 3s, bench to 66-56 win over Saint Peter’s
By WILLIAM S. PAXTON
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Tyler Polley paced a balanced UConn offense with 12 points in a 66-56 victory over Saint Peter’s on Wednesday.
Nine of the 10 Huskies who played finished with at least a basket.
Freshman Jalen Gaffney added 10 points and five assists, while Akok Akok had seven points, eight rebounds and five blocks.
Polley was 4 of 6 on 3-pointers and UConn (7-3) shot 41.2 percent (7-for-17) from the perimeter.
Aaron Estrada had 12 points and Daryl Banks III scored 10 to lead the Peacocks (2-5), who shot 62.5 percent (5-for-8) on 3s.
“Defensively we were really good for the most part,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. “We have to be a top 30, top 35 team to have a surprisingly good season because offensive we have a ways to go.”
The two teams combined for 51 turnovers, with UConn scoring 22 points on 25 mistakes by Saint Peter’s. The Peacocks scored 19 points on UConn’s season-high 26.
Christian Vital and James Bouknight each scored seven points and UConn shot 61.7 percent (13-for-21) to lead 40-22 at the half. It was the Huskies’ largest halftime lead of the season, with the previous being nine (36-27) against Miami.
“First half we played really well on the defensive end and we shared the ball,” Polley said. “We still had a lot of turnovers, but I think focus in on what we did in the first half and carry on from there.”
Tied at 10, UConn outscored Saint Peter’s 22-4 in just over eight minutes to take a commanding 32-14 lead with 3:55 to play in the first half.
The UConn bench, which scored just five points in a loss to Indiana last week, had 16 at the half, led by Bouknight, and contributed 26 overall.
Saint Peter’s: The Peacocks had won three of their last four coming into the UConn game, but have struggled on the road, falling to 0-3.
UConn: The Huskies were coming off a seven-day break, but once again followed a tough loss with a decisive victory to avoid its first multi-game losing streak of the season.
“We need our bench,” Hurley said. “We don’t have anyone who’s going to drop 25 and save us.
“We have to beat people with depth, we got to beat people by getting quality play from our entire rotation and we have to consistently win with balance.”
STAT OF THE NIGHT: With 26 turnovers, UConn has committed 48 in the last two games after tallying 97 in the first eight games. “We have a lot to do with our ball security right now,” Hurley said. “The last two games have really been a poor reflection on my ability to get my team to be strong with the ball and make good decisions.”
FRESHMAN STANDOUT: After scoring a combined seven points in his first nine games, Gaffney netted a career high in points and assists in just under 20 minutes.
Saint Peter’s is on a four-game road trip with the second stop coming Sunday at Long Island University.
UConn plays New Hampshire on Sunday in the second of a three-game homestand.
Updated December 18, 2019