STORRS, Conn. – Facing a steep halftime deficit, the Queens College men's basketball team showed a lot of heart in the second half, competing with the four-time NCAA Division I National Champion University of Connecticut Huskies in an exhibition contest from Gampel Pavilion Sunday evening. Although the Knights fell, 100-43, Queens put forth a gutsy performance out of the break, cutting the deficit down to 18 early in the second half.
Senior Simon Green led the Knights with 12 points, five assists, three rebounds and two steals, while fellow senior Tyrone Hall also reached double figures with 10 points (3-of-5 FG) along with four steals and four rebounds.
"I'm proud of the guys," said head coach Matt Collier. "I felt like we did some good things out there, especially in the second half. So we can go back, look at it and show them - execute well, we can have success, if we don't, then things can get away from us. But I'm proud of how we competed."
The Huskies pressured the Knights right from their opening possession, forcing turnover after turnover. Queens was also plagued by a cold start, shooting 13.6 percent from the field in the opening half.
After a Terry Larrier dunk, Queens was forced to take its first timeout at the 16:08 mark. Freshman Elijah Bovell blocked Alterique Gilbert's layup attempt, but the Huskies maintained a 20-point advantage heading into the under-12 media timeout. The Knights looked to get on the board out of the timeout, however, a pair of triples by the Huskies forced Queens to take another timeout.
Green ended the scoring drought with 9:50 remaining in the half by knocking down a pair of foul shots, putting the Knights on the board. Freshman Keenan Gorski made another pair of free-throws with 8:02 on the clock, but Queens still couldn't get into rhythm.
It wasn't until 5:52 left in the opening half when Queens registered its first bucket, as sophomore Kevin Buron stole the ball from Christian Vital and fed it to freshman Hasan Ringer, who jammed it home for the Knights' first field goal. Shortly after that, sophomore Wayne Li nailed the Knights' first three-pointer of the night to bring the score to 45-9 with 4:04 remaining. Green hit a three with 22 seconds left until halftime to make it 47-15, as the Knights ended the half on a high note, capping off a 9-2 run.
Queens opened up the second half on a roll, hitting three quick triples to start a 9-1 run. Hall opened up the scoring in the second half with a three-pointer from the corner just 17 seconds in. Green later stole a cross-court pass and drained a three, followed by another three by Buron, as the Huskies were forced into a timeout just 1:57 into the half with the deficit cut to 24.
The Knights made it a 17-3 run, as Bovell converted a layup on a lob from Green, and then Hall buried back-to-back threes to cut the deficit to just 18 at 50-32 4:07 into the half. However, the Huskies followed with a 15-0 run to take command before freshman Tyrese Crosdale sank back-to-back triples to make it 65-38 with 11:43 to go.
From there, Queens cooled off, while UConn continued to stretch the lead with a 13-0 run. Green ended the run with a layup in traffic, but the Huskies kept knocking down shots. With just over four minutes remaining, Bovell made a shifty move and finished it off with a one-handed slam, forcing a UConn timeout. But the Huskies ended the game on a 16-0 run to finish things off.
UConn shot 55.3 percent from the floor for the game, while Queens shot 23.2 percent from the field. The Huskies had four players score in double digits led by Josh Carlton's 20 points. The Knights were able to connect on nine three-pointers but were hurt by 28 turnovers. Defensively, Queens forced UConn into 20 turnovers.
Queens will officially begin its season at home against Chestnut Hill College on Friday, Nov. 10, at 7 p.m.