No. 12 Connecticut holds off Tribe, 75-66Nov 14, 2009 - 4:10 AM By PAT EATON-ROBB Associated Press Writer
STORRS, Conn.(AP) -- Jerome Dyson missed Connecticut's run to the Final Four last season with a torn-up knee.
He wasn't going to let a torn toenail keep him out of this season's opener.
Dyson, playing without the nail on his right big toe, scored 27 points to lead No. 12 UConn to a 75-66 win Friday night over William & Mary.
The senior guard, who hadn't played since Feb. 11 when he tore the meniscus in his right knee, also had eight assists and four steals.
"I just had to fight through it," Dyson said. "I'm not in that much pain."
William & Mary kept the game close by hitting 13 shots from 3-point range, and got within four in the second half. Quinn McDowell led the Tribe (0-1) with 20 points and David Schneider and Danny Sumner each added 14.
Stanley Robinson added 17 points and freshman Alex Oriakhi had eight points and 10 rebounds for UConn (1-0). The two teams each had 34 rebounds, but William & Mary won the battle on the offensive boards 13-10.
UConn coach Jim Calhoun said he thought his squad was outplayed by a team with less talent.
"It was just a lackluster performance," he said. "It was a win and a lackluster performance by us. Honestly, for a young team, you can't be lackluster."
UConn led 65-58 with 4 minutes left when Robinson was fouled going to the basket. After hitting his first free throw, he followed a miss with a rebound and dunk that put the Huskies back up by 10 points, and UConn hung on from there.
"I knew the shot was coming off, so I just pretty much timed it, and pretty much dunked it," Robinson said. "But at the same time, we didn't play a great game, and it showed."
UConn had hoped simply to outrun William & Mary.
The Huskies went into a press off its first basket and got six easy points inside from the 6-foot-9 Oriakhi. They had highlight-reel dunks from Dyson and Robinson and went on a 10-0 run early, turning a 9-7 lead into a 19-7 advantage. But UConn made just two jump shots in the first half and missed all five of its 3-pointers.
Sumner and McDowell kept the Tribe in the game, scoring 21 of the team's 31 points in the first half. William & Mary closed the half on a 14-6 run and trailed just 37-31 at the half.
Freshman Darius Smith made the Huskies' first 3-pointer more than 3 minutes into the second half, after the Tribe had cut the lead to 42-38.
Dyson, who accidentally ripped the toenail off his right foot last week, then led the Huskies on a 13-3 run. He hit consecutive 3s to stretch the UConn lead to 55-41 - the largest lead of the game.
"I was really proud of our effort," said William & Mary coach Tony Shaver. "We stood toe-to-toe with a pretty doggone good ball club."
UConn finished just 5 of 16 from 3-point range. The Tribe hit 7 of 16 3-pointers in the second half alone.
"That kid McDowell is still open," Calhoun said.
Connecticut, which has led the nation in blocked shots for eight consecutive years, had seven against the Tribe, three from Robinson.
Four freshmen saw playing time for the Huskies, but only Oriakhi stood out.
"It comes with time," said point guard Kemba Walker, who had 12 points. "We're going to get better. We're going to take this game, practice tomorrow and get better."
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