Jerome Dyson scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half and Connecticut hung on to beat Northeastern 59-57 Tuesday in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.
Dyson, who scored a total of 18 points in his previous three games, had 11 of UConn’s final 13 points to bring his team back from a six-point deficit. His free throws with 53 seconds left provided the winning margin, and snapped a four-game losing streak.
“I didn’t want it to go down and end like that,” Dyson said. “I just tried to be more aggressive.”
UConn’s Kemba Walker had a chance to ice the game, but missed the front end of two 1-and-1s in the final minute.
Baptiste Bataille’s 3-point attempt, which would have won the game for Northeastern at the buzzer, fell short.
“We did a good job following our game plan and we still had a shot in the last seconds,” Bataille said. “It was a little unfortunate but we’re happy with the effort.”
Matt Janning scored 17 points for Northeastern (20-13), which finished second in the Colonial Athletic Association. Manny Adako added 14 points.
Connecticut (18-15), a perennial power in the Big East having a down season, advances to play the winner of Wednesday night’s game between Quinnipiac and top-seeded Virginia Tech.
Trailing 55-50 with just under five minutes left, UConn went to a press and denied Janning the ball. Northeastern missed four of its final five shots.
Dyson hit a jumper and a 3-pointer to bring the Huskies within two points, then found Stanley Robinson underneath for a reverse layup that tied the game 57 with 1:41 left. Robinson finished with 14 points.
“If it weren’t for Jerome it could have been a whole other story,” UConn forward Gavin Edwards said. “It’s definitely nice to be on the receiving ends of one of those wins.”
Northeastern trailed by eight points at halftime, but a 15-4 run turned a 39-32 deficit into a 47-43 lead midway through the second half. They led 54-48 with 6 minutes left.
Northeastern jumped to a 10-2 lead on one of Janning’s four 3-pointers.
But Connecticut took over from there, outscoring Northeastern 32-16 the rest of the half. UConn dominated in the paint, scoring 20-first half points down low and outrebounding Northeastern 23-14.
It was 34-26 at the half.