Connecticut head coach Kevin Ollie shouts instructions to his team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Tulsa in Tulsa, Okla., Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Dave Crenshaw)
Dave Crenshaw
January 14, 2016

TULSA, Okla. (AP) Consider Thursday night a watershed moment for Tulsa.

After trailing by 11 in the first half and by as much as eight early in the second, the Golden Hurricane, led by 20 points and nine rebounds from James Woodard, battled back to defeat Connecticut 60-51.

Shaquille Harrison added 13 points and seven rebounds for Tulsa (11-6, 3-2 American), which used a 19-4 run over a span of 7:30 to take over the game and win its third straight contest.

''It was a great win for us, a great program win,'' said TU coach Frank Haith. ''Our passion, our resiliency, was just unbelievable - just a tremendous win for us. Defensively, we were terrific. I'm really proud of our guys.''

Sterling Gibbs scored 20 points and Shonn Miller contributed 14 points and eight rebounds for UConn (11-5, 2-2), which has lost two of its last three following a five-game winning streak.

The Huskies shot just 8 of 31 (25.8 percent) from the floor in the second half and launched 29 3-point attempts in the game overall, making just 8 (27.6 percent).

''I give Tulsa credit,'' said Huskies coach Kevin Ollie. ''They had a great defense and our guys just didn't shoot the basketball as well as we can.''

UConn led 44-38 after Jalen Adams' basket with 8:23 remaining, but Tulsa reeled off an 11-2 run over the next four minutes to seize its first lead of the second half, 49-46, on Woodard's second straight 3-pointer.

Daniel Hamilton responded with a basket with 4:04 to go, but the Golden Hurricane scored the next eight points while UConn missed six straight shots, making it 57-48 on Woodard's 3 from the right side with 53 seconds left.

''We had to finish the game, we were going to show that we were not stopping until the last second,'' Woodard said. ''Our effort was amazing tonight, we were laying it all on the floor, doing hustle plays, doing the little things to try and seal the win.''

After the teams entered halftime tied 26-26, UConn came out strong, scoring the first seven points and using a 10-2 run to go ahead 36-28 after Gibbs' 3-pointer with 3:51 elapsed in the second half.

Over the first seven and a half minutes of the second half, Tulsa shot just 1-for-10 from the floor, but after Brandon Swannegan's layup with 12:11 remaining, trailed just 37-34.

''We kind of just let this one go,'' Gibbs said. ''I think we had this one in the bag, I think we should have definitely held onto this one.''

UConn jumped out to a fast start, building up a quick 8-0 lead over the first 2:30 of play, six of the points coming on back-to-back 3-pointers from Miller. Tulsa responded with a 7-0 run, pulling to within a point after Harrison's steal, fast break and layup with 4:23 gone in the first half.

The Huskies then answered with a 10-0 run, going up 18-7 after Hamilton's 3-pointer with 12:12 left in the opening half.

Tulsa continued to battle back, as Rashad Smith's free throw with 3:10 remaining in the half capped an 11-0 run to make it 23-21, sending the home crowd into a frenzy.

''We talked about adversity,'' Haith said. ''We talked about that before the game, that there would be a lot of trials in the game. `We just got to stay with it. You've got to be able to dig in and keep playing.' I'm proud of our guys.''

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TIP INS

Connecticut: Junior guard Rodney Purvis, who entered the game as UConn's top scorer averaging 15.1 points per game, scored just five points on 1-for-9 shooting, marking his first game of the season in single digits. Purvis had scored 10 or more in all previous 15 contests this season and in 21 consecutive, dating back to last season.

Tulsa: Senior guard Shaquille Harrison entered the day ranking 10th in the nation in free throw attempts, with an average of 8.1 per game, but shot just four times from the line, making three.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

''Our defense was tremendous tonight. We had a couple of slips in there, but when you play hard, like coach says, the basketball gods reward you. Our effort and energy was there, so a lot of balls bounced our way, too.'' - Tulsa guard Shaquille Harrison

UP NEXT

Connecticut finishes up a two-game road trip on Sunday at Houston.

Tulsa travels to face East Carolina next Tuesday.

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