LOS ANGELES (AP) — After losing the first two games of the season at home, UConn was in danger of dropping its third straight.
But a late rally ignited the Huskies to their first win of the season.
Terry Larrier scored 14 points, including the go-ahead basket, and UConn held on to beat Loyola Marymount 65-62 on Thursday night.
“We were scrambling a bit at the end and we were running on an empty tank,” Larrier said. “At the end of the game we were trying to stop them from getting open-look 3s and it’s definitely nice to get that first win.”
Although the Huskies (1-2) trailed much of the second half, Larrier’s basket with 2:22 to play gave UConn a 63-62 lead. Jalen Adams, a sophomore guard, added two free throws with 20 seconds left to give UConn a cushion.
Brandon Brown’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer would have forced overtime for the Lions (1-2), but his shot hit off the rim and the Huskies escaped with their first win of the season.
“It was a grind it out game,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. “It’s good to get on the victory trail. We did not finish a lot of shots. We missed a lot of layups and we need to improve our transition game. We had too many turnovers and we have to fix that. But our guys believed in themselves, trusted each other and didn’t stop playing.”
Kelvin Amayo — a transfer from Iona who was granted a sixth year waiver following knee surgery — led LMU with 18 points. Amayo made 5 of 12 shots and 8 of 11 free throws. He also pulled down six rebounds for the Lions. Buay Tuach scored 12 points and Brown added 10 points for LMU.
Amida Brimah scored 9 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for UConn.
“We started out strong in the first half but finished the half sloppy,” Brimah said. “At halftime we made adjustments and when we took the court in the second half we had confidence we were going to win.” The Huskies started the season ranked 18th but fell out of the polls after a pair of setbacks against Wagner and Northeastern.
Both teams showed offensive spurts in the opening half but neither team maintained them.
Alterique Gilbert led the Huskies with 10 points in the first half, but dislocated his left shoulder after colliding with a defender while chasing a loose ball late in the half. He remained down on the court for several minutes before the training staff led him off to the locker room. He did not return.
“We definitely had good defensive pressure as a team,” Vital said. “This was a must win for our team. We’re a young team and we faced adversity.”
Ollie said Gilbert reinjured the shoulder he previously hurt and will be examined when the team gets to Hawaii on Friday.
UConn: Thursday was the third game of a hectic beginning to the 2016-17 season, which the Huskies will play seven games in 20 days and also take a 10,200-mile road trip during that span.
LMU: The Lions coach, former NBA coach Mike Dunlap, figures to improve LMU’s 14-17 record from a year ago. Dunlap has formed a strong nucleus of transfers, junior college players and newcomers.
UConn travels to the Island of Maui for the fourth time to participate in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational starting Monday against Oklahoma State, followed by games on Tuesday and Wednesday.
LMU has an eight-day break before hosting Portland State, followed by games against Boise State and Southern Utah before concluding its four-game home stand.