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UConn Falls to SMU 62-54 in the American Athletic Conference Championship

Rodney Purvis led the Huskies with 29 points.

(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)


HARTFORD — A hard fought game where the SMU lead was as high as 17 at one point and as low as five at another ended in a loss for the UConn Huskies as SMU claimed the American championship game in a 62-54 win.

“I had pride in them,” head coach Kevin Ollie said. “They showed a lot of resilience and a lot or heart, a lot of hustle.”

Rodney Purvis led the Huskies with 29 points. He was the only Husky to reach double figures in the setback to the Mustangs, whereas four SMU players surpassed the 10-point mark.

“I was just trying to be aggressive and take what the defense gave to me, that was the main thing,” Purvis said.

Another slow start plagued the Huskies in Hartford. They started the first half shooting 20.8 percent from the field thanks to 10 points from Purvis. Ryan Boatright couldn’t get things going after taking an elbow to the face in the early minutes of the half. He was 0-8 from the field and finished the half with 2 points.

SMU led the Huskies 33-19 starting out the second half and built their lead up to 17 points. What looked like a blowout suddenly turned into a game.

After Boatright went down a second time, writhing in pain and clutching his shoulder, Purvis stepped up to lead the Huskies on a comeback kick, finding all different ways to score from the three-point line, from the lane and from the free throw line. Behind the energy of the crowd, the Husky defense played with a rejuvenated sense of urgency and cut the Mustangs’ lead to five points.

However, even with Boatright in the game, the Huskies couldn’t get it closer. Fouls and SMU free throws contributed to UConn’s demise, and ultimately they couldn’t get it done as SMU closed it out in the final seconds at the line.

“I’m extremely proud of my teammates,” Boatright said. “They came out and they battled. I know Purvis had a tremendous game, he stepped up huge. I’m just disappointed in my play.”

SMU moved on to discover they will head into the NCAA tournament as a six seed, and UConn will play their postseason in the NIT after they get their rest from this four-game stretch.

When asked whether or not it would be hard for the team to gear up for its decided route of postseason play, Ollie had this to say and leave everyone to think about:

“Why? You put on a UConn jersey. If you can’t get geared up, then I don’t want you on my team. So, no, you put on a UConn jersey. It’s important when you put that jersey on, and that’s my message.”

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