Napier’s threes hold off Rutgers
In the final 10 minutes last night against Connecticut, the Rutgers men’s basketball team got four field goals and two free throws.
Junior forward Kadeem Jack’s insertion into the game against No. 19 UConn was the Scarlet Knights’ chance to finally overcome a one-possession deficit.
The Knights trailed, 56-53, with 10:05 left in Storrs, Conn. It was impressive considering Huskies guard Shabazz Napier forgot how to miss 3-pointers.
Rutgers had opportunities, but went scoreless for six straight minutes in its 69-63 loss to UConn.
Nobody scored until Napier made a layup with 7:49 left, ensuring his 25th of 26 points and sparking UConn’s (24-6, 12-5) 8-0 run. Napier also shot 7-for-11 from 3-point land.
Rutgers (11-19, 5-12) shot 0-for-6 from the field for the six-minute run. It included a shot clock violation, a traveling call on Judge and a missed free throw from senior wing J.J. Moore.
After UConn made a short run, senior forward Wally Judge scored six consecutive Knights points on two midrange jumpers — one was almost beyond the arc — and a dunk.
That brought the Huskies’ lead to only 56-50 with 11:50 left in the game. Then junior guard Jerome Seagears made a 3-pointer to make it a one-possession game.
But often when the Knights previously made it a one-possession game, Napier abruptly sunk 3-pointers. Napier made it a two-possession game with his seventh basket from beyond the arc. Rutgers trailed, 46-41, with 15:31 remaining.
Moore previously gave Rutgers only a 36-35 deficit with a jumper with 18:54 left in the game. Napier answered with his sixth 3-pointer.
Rutgers stayed in the game early, trailing only 34-31 at halftime.
Junior guard Myles Mack made a 3-pointer with 1:40 left in the period to bring the Knights’ deficit to 27-25. From that point, Rutgers and UConn essentially exchanged baskets until halftime.
Mack and Moore made quick 3-pointers. But UConn stayed on top with a midrange shot from guard Ryan Boatright and two free throws from Napier.
It is all too common for Rutgers to begin with a complete, competitive game only for one poor stretch to bring another loss.