No. 18 Connecticut Huskies Score Early And Often To Defeat Michigan Wolverines In Bahamas
Paradise Island, BAHAMAS: Connecticut Huskies guard Sterling Gibbs (4) hits a three point shot against Michigan Wolverines.(Kevin Jairaj, USA TODAY Sports)

No. 18 Connecticut Huskies Score Early And Often To Defeat Michigan Wolverines In Bahamas

Daniel Hamilton led the No. 18 Connecticut Huskies to a 74-60 win over the Michigan Wolverines in Paradise Island, Bahamas on Wednesday night. Michigan rallied late, but UConn survived with late free throws.

Evan Petzold

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas -- The No. 18 Connecticut Huskies left the mainland and defeated the Michigan Wolverines 74-60 in the opening round of the the Battle 4 Atlantis in Paradise Island, Bahamas. 

Leading the way for the Huskies (4-0) was Daniel Hamilton, who scored 16 points. The forward added nine rebounds and nine assists to the victory formula. 

After taking a 36-22 lead into halftime, the Huskies were able to extend their lead to 19 points. Down the stretch, their opponent, the Wolverines, cut into that lead and made it a single digit deficit. Late free throws sealed the deal for Connecticut to give them the victory. 

"We had to game plan this one out there -- the whole night," Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie said. "We had our principles and they stayed solid the whole night. We just had contributions from every area. ... I thought our preparation was wonderful and guys really executed the game plan."

The Wolverines (2-2) were led by Caris LeVert, who totaled 21 points, five rebounds and two assists.

He’s a great player and anytime he was in the game, we definitely had to be aware and of course he’s their No. 1 option,” Rodney Purvis of Connecticut said. “It was kind of tough for one person to stop him, so he was a guy we all focused on stopping. I feel we did a decent job. He hit a couple shots in the second half but we were able to maintain, get defensive stops and come out with the win.”

The Wolverines as a whole shot just 32.1 percent from the field. In the final seven minutes of the first half, Michigan was outscored 22-7, which put them in a deep hole. Also, Connecticut won the rebounding battle 42-31 on Wednesday night. 

We had a span, much like the Xavier game, in the first half where we beat ourselves a little bit,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “With some really bad shots, we shot our way out of the game during that little span. What is a good, good shot? Not the first one you look at it.”

While Hamilton did most the scoring, Shonn Miller and Purvis each scored 13. Miller added six rebounds, while going 7-for-8 from the charity stripe. Purvis helped with six rebounds and one assist in the win. 

Off the bench, Sam Cassell Jr. played 12 minutes, but made the most of those minutes with 11 points and one rebound for Connecticut. 

Besides LeVert, the Wolverines could not get much offensive help. Zak Irvin, a forward, finished 1-for-10 from the field, including 0-for-6 from long range. While he totaled seven rebounds, the Wolverines needed more on the scoring end from Irivin. 

Duncan Robinson, who came off the bench, is normally a huge scoring threat. On Wednesday, however, he scored five points on 1-for-8 shooting from the field. 

The only two Wolverines in double figures were LeVert and Derrick Walton Jr. Walton, a Michigan junior guard, totaled 10 points, four rebounds and two assists over 31 minutes. 

Connecticut will play the Syracuse Orange (4-0) in the semifinal game on Thursday, while Michigan will play the Charlotte 49ers (1-3) in the consolation bracket. 

It’s November 25, my speech to them if you’re going to lose, lose early and we’re going to get better,” Beilein said. “We’ve had seasons like this where we didn’t get off to such a good start … It doesn’t frustrate me one bit. I trust these guys. I just wish our learning curve was faster. For some reason, this team just inches along and inches along and we’ll keep working with them.”