STORRS, Conn. (AP) Saint Joseph’s played two very different halves of basketball Wednesday night, but played well enough in both to get a big road win.
Ryan Daly scored a career-high 30 points as the Hawks jumped out to a 27-point lead and then held off UConn for a 96-87 victory.
Rahim Moore added 22 points and Myles Douglas had 18 for St. Joe’s (2-1), which saw its advantage shrink to three points late, but never trailed.
“We’ll take something from our first half and executing our style and our system and then we found a way to win with toughness in the last eight minutes of the game,” said first-year coach Billy Lange.
Christian Vital had 26 points and Alterique Gilbert added 22 for UConn (1-1).
The Hawks opened the game with a 14-0 run. While UConn missed its first nine shots, St. Joe’s hit five of its first seven, including three of four from 3-point range.
Gilbert paused the bleeding for a moment with UConn’s first basket, a driving layup that came more than four minutes into the game.
But a 3-pointer by Daly pushed St. Joe’s lead over 20-points at 34-12 midway through the first half and the Hawks extended that to 46-19. Daly had 21 points by halftime, hitting five of his first seven shots from 3-point range.
“I honestly hadn’t hit a 3 all season yet,” said Daly. “And I thought about it and today I came out and I was feeling it early.”
It was 54-38 at the break and 69-48 with 12 ½ minutes left.
UConn went to a pressing defense and quickly cut into that deficit, outscoring the Hawks 21-4 over the next four minutes. The run was capped by a driving layup from Vital that made it 73-69.
The Huskies got as close as 79-76 after two free throws from Vital. But Daly hit a 3-pointer on the other end and St. Joe’s outscored UConn 17-11 down the stretch.
“We’re learning,” Vital said. “We’re not a perfect group of guys. We’re not a perfect team. We’re going to definitely stay together, that’s for sure.”
UConn is 6-3 all-time against St. Joe’s. This was the first meeting between the two schools since the first round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament. UConn won that game 89-81 in overtime, beginning their run to a fourth national title.
Coach Dan Hurley said the Huskies have to get the culture back to where it was in those days.
“Obviously we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Hurley said. “I’ve got a ton of work to do. Man, we’ve got a long way to go.”
Saint Joseph’s made 13 of its 33 shots from 3-point range, but only 3 of 12 in the second half. The Hawks have put up 101 3-pointers in three games.
“We have confidence, because it’s all we do,” Daly said. “We shoot the ball; we spread the floor and we’ll live with the results.”
BY THE NUMBERS
Saint Joseph’s bench outscored UConn’s 27-5, led by Moore who went 6 of 8 from the floor and 9 of 13 from the foul line. UConn’s Vital and Gilbert combined to take 40 of the Huskies 61 shots.
HELP IS COMING
UConn did get some good news Wednesday night. Javonte Brown-Ferguson, a highly touted 6-foot-11 center from Ontario, Canada, announced Wednesday that he would attend UConn next year. Brown-Ferguson, who is just 17, picked the Huskies over Texas A&M and Kansas.
St. Joseph’s continues its three-game road swing with a trip to Loyola Chicago
It doesn’t get any easier for UConn, which wraps up its opening three-game campus homestand on Sunday with a game against No. 15 Florida.