Boatright, Huskies suffer painful defeat to Texas
STORRS – Laying on the Gampel Pavilion floor, UConn’s Ryan Boatright suffered through pain of both spectrums in the final seconds of Sunday’s game against Texas.
First, he went through the torment of watching Jonathan Holmes drain an open three-pointer from the corner with only 2.2 seconds left to give the seventh-ranked Longhorns a 55-54 victory.
After the final buzzer sounded, Boatright, who rolled his left ankle trying to defend the play, had to be carried off the floor because the ankle hurt too much to walk on.
Boatright was in crutches after the game, but doesn’t think the injury is too serious and hopes to play in UConn’s next game on Friday versus Yale. Before then, he will have to get over the mental and physical pain from Sunday’s loss, a defeat that will surely bring more anguish when the Huskies review the game film this week.
“I don’t know if I’ll play Friday, but I will do my best,” Boatright said after recording a game-high 24 points with seven rebounds. “It’s nothing major where I’ll miss two or three games.”
The Huskies, losers of two straight, led 54-52 with 4.4 seconds left. Connor Lambert inbounded the ball for the Longhorns in front of their own bench and found Holmes all alone in the corner. Boatright, who was guarding Holmes, hurt his ankle trying to fight through a screen and collapsed right to the floor. Amida Brimah made a desperate attempt to alter or block the shot, but to no avail as Holmes calmly drained it.
“The first look was for (Myles) Turner,” Holmes said. “The second look was for me in the corner, and that was as open as you could hope for with four seconds left.”
Boatright described his unique, and unfortunate, view of the play.
“I realized my man was setting the screen and when I planted to go back the other way, it just turned and gave out,” Boatright said. “It was crazy. Watching the ball go through the air, I didn’t even feel my ankle. As soon as it went through the basket, the pain just shot straight through me.
“It was a great play and he made a tough shot.”
Daniel Hamilton, without any timeouts remaining, threw away the inbounds pass and the clock ran out, leaving the 10,167 on hand in stunned silence, not only because of the defeat, but also at the sight of Boatright writhing in pain on the court.
“It was a tough loss, especially since we played so hard,” noted Hamilton, who netted 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Huskies (3-2).
Texas, now 6-0, won despite missing its leading scorer Isaiah Turner, out with a wrist injury, and making only 37 percent of its shots.
UConn coach Kevin Ollie was particularly dismayed at his own team’s shooting, as the Huskies made only 30 percent of their attempts, including 3-of-16 on three-point attempts.
Sam Cassell Jr. made only two of 11 shots and 1-of-7 from three. Meanwhile, Brimah struggled mightily in the paint against the massive Texas frontline, making only one of seven attempts and securing a mere two rebounds.
“They need to live in the champions center (UConn’s practice facility),” Ollie said. “When you’re not working on academics, you need to be in the gym working on your game. You do not want to be exposed on national TV.”
UConn finished with no field goals in the final 6:51 and Texas slowly came back from a six-point deficit thanks to five free throws and a lay-up by Javan Felix with 19 seconds left.
Boatright split two foul shots four seconds later, setting the stage for Holmes’ heroics.
“We just came up a little short today,” said Ollie, whose No. 24 squad will fall out of the rankings this week. “A valiant effort by our guys, though. But we’ve got to get better. We can’t expect to win games shooting 30 percent.”
If they don’t shoot better, the Huskies can expect to see more painful losses in their future.