STORRS, Conn. (AP) — Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell might have been happy a few years ago with an 11-point loss to Connecticut.
But after starting this season 4-1 and leading the No. 21 Huskies for most of the game, the former UConn point guard was disappointed with Sunday’s 73-62 loss to his alma mater.
“It’s not good,” Pikiell said. “We can play. We can play with these guys. I think we can play with anyone on our schedule.”
The Huskies (5-1) hit their final eight attempts from behind the arc Sunday to rally from a seven-point second-half deficit for the win.
“Basketball is a game of runs, they made run, we couldn’t execute and they came out on top,” said Dave Coley, who led the Seawolves with 15 points. Tommy Brenton added 14.
Niels Giffey came off the bench to score a career-high 15 points and grab eight rebounds for UConn and Shabazz Napier had 15 of his 19 points in the second half.
Omar Calhoun added 14 points. The three players combined to go 9 of 16 from 3-point range. The team finished 10 of 22.
“(Stony Brook) packed it in, packed it in, they dared us to shoot 3s,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. “Once we started getting in and understanding our offense and drawing two and taking an advantage, we started kicking it out and our guys were wide open.”
The Seawolves led 33-26 early in the second half after a 10-0 run that overlapped with halftime.
“We came out with great energy in the first half and we were winning, so there was no reason not to think we can’t do it again,” Brenton said. “I think this is a great learning experience.”
The Huskies chipped away at the deficit, tying it at 39 with 11:40 to play on a jumper by DeAndre Daniels.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Napier and Giffey put UConn up 45-39. That started the run of consecutive makes from behind the arc by the Huskies. A four-point play by Napier put UConn up 61-47 with just over 4 minutes left.
“As soon as I made that four-point play I felt it was our ballgame,” Napier said. “I always feel like it’s our ballgame, but that right there, I felt everybody else got excited and enthusiastic and that always gives you that effort to win that game.”
Stony Brook made just five of its 18 3-point attempts and shot just 38 percent from the floor.
Coley opened the game with a 3-pointer and the Seawolves jumped out to an early 10-2 lead.
The Huskies missed 11 of their first 12 shots from the field and trailed 14-8 midway through the first half.
Daniels’ putback gave the Huskies their first lead at 19-17.
But Stony Brook scored the last eight points of the half. Anthony Mayo blocked a 3-point attempt by Ryan Boatright just before the buzzer and the Seawolves carried a 31-26 lead into the break.
The Huskies shot just 32 percent from the field in the first half, but moved to 64 percent in the second.
This was just the second home game for the Huskies, who were coming off their first loss of the season to New Mexico in the Paradise Jam final in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Stony Brook outrebounded Connecticut 38-35. The Huskies have been outrebounded in every game this season, and were averaging almost nine fewer rebounds than their opponents.
Stony Brook was averaging 41 rebounds per game. It was led by Jameel Warney’s 11 boards. He also had eight points.
“I thought we could be plus-12 on the backboard going into the game,” Pikiell said. “So to be only plus-three was very disappointing.”
Stony Brook was playing its second game in two days after beating Canisius at home on Saturday 82-75.
“We played a hard-fought game yesterday,” Pikiell said. “And then to jump on the bus today and come up here wears on you a little bit. Hopefully this will help us when we move into our conference tournament.”
The Huskies improved to 5-0 against Stony Brook. Connecticut hasn’t lost to a nonconference opponent in its on-campus arena since falling to Detroit Mercy in the 2001 NIT.
Stony Brook was looking to go 5-1 for just the second time in program history. The first came in 2009.
“We’re going to be like UConn,” Pikiell said. “It’s going to take a few more ‘Ls’ and a few more bus trips, but we’re going to be like this. That’s what I envision for our program down the road.”
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.