TULSA, Okla. — James Woodard scored 21 points as Tulsa held off a rally by UConn for a 66-58 victory in the first-ever meeting as American Conference foes.
Shaquille Harrison scored 11 of his 12 points in the second half to give Tulsa (11-5, 4-0) its sixth straight win.
“Our focus was outstanding,” Tulsa coach Frank Haith said. “I thought our guys competed on both ends of the court, played with tremendous toughness and there was no letup throughout the game. We’re not a great shooting team and have to hang our hat on the defense.”
Harrison’s rare 3-pointer pushed Tulsa’s lead to 62-49 with 2:58 to play.
Trailing 55-39, UConn rallied behind the shooting of Daniel Hamilton. He made a trio of 3-pointers down the stretch, the last of which pulled the Huskies within 62-55 with 2:08 left.
Hamilton scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for UConn (9-6, 2-2). Terrence Samuel had 12 points and Amida Brimah added 11. Leading scorer Ryan Boatright was held to eight points.
Boatright scored on his team’s first possession of each half, but was otherwise 1 for 7 while being guarded by Harrison, Rashad Ray and Woodard mainly.
“He was a huge focus for us,” Woodard said. “If he gets going and has a good shooting night, it’s a different game. I thought Shaq (Harrison) did a great job of guarding him and wearing him down.”
Woodard had two 3-pointers and a layup as Tulsa expanded a 30-24 halftime lead to 50-35 midway through the second half.
Rashad Smith, who scored 12 points, capped the run with a layup and free throw off an assist from Ray.
UConn came as close as 62-57 on a jumper by Rodney Purvis with 1:38 to play. Tulsa got two offensive rebounds on its next possession and the Huskies did not foul intentionally. By the time UConn regained possession after two D’Andre Wright free throws, there were just 19 seconds remaining.
“It’s easy to play hard when you’re down by 15,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. “There’s no pressure then. We need that same effort from the start. We’ve got to play hard, consistent basketball for 40 minutes.”
UConn: The Huskies shot 34 percent in the first half, 52 percent after intermission. UConn coach Kevin Ollie was not overly impressed with his team’s late comeback.
Tulsa: The win was a school record 15th straight conference victory for Tulsa, including an 11-0 run to close the 2014 season in Conference USA regular season and tournament play.
“I’m not going down memory lane,” Tulsa coach Frank Haith said. “We’re just focusing on the here and now and trying to get better every day. This was a great win for our program but we’ve got a lot to do to get better.”
UConn: Saturday at Stanford.
Tulsa: Saturday at USF.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press