Huskies hold off Trojans despite cold-shooting finish

James Bouknight scored a game-high 18 points Thursday night and Connecticut survived an offensive drought in the final 7 1/2 minutes to hold off USC 61-58 in the Mohegan Sun bubble.

Tyrese Martin added 11 points and seven rebounds, while Isaiah Whaley chipped in 10 points as the Huskies improved to 3-0 despite failing to score over the last 4:03. They managed just three points during the final 7:30.

Fortunately for Connecticut, the Trojans (3-1) managed only four points in the last 7 1/2 minutes, missing 12 of their final 13 shots. That included three shots on the game’s final possession, including potential game-tying 3-pointers by Noah Baumann and Evan Mobley.

Mobley, a highly-touted freshman who leads the team in scoring and rebounding, tallied 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds. He was the only player in double figures for USC, which made just 8 of 28 shots in the second half and was outrebounded 42-31.

The Huskies got an important contribution off the bench from forward Josh Carlton, who chipped in nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds after not getting off the bench in a Friday night win over Hartford.

USC landed the first blow in a well-played first half, establishing a 9-3 lead at the 16:54 mark when Mobley converted a 3-point play. Connecticut answered back by ripping off a 13-2 run, going ahead 16-11 on a Carlton putback with 13:26 remaining.

That set the half’s trend — one team pushes, the other pushes back. There were nine lead changes in the half and just six turnovers combined, an indication of how well both teams executed. Six of those lead changes occurred in a 2:23 span just past the midway point of the half.

The Huskies took the lead for good on a short jumper by Whaley with 7:16 left, making it 27-26. That started a 12-1 run which pushed the margin to 37-27 after Carlton’s layup with 2:33 showing, but the Trojans closed to within 39-34 at the half.