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Connecticut edges Northeastern 59-57 in NIT

Jerome Dyson of Connecticut slips past Matt Janning

Jerome Dyson of Connecticut slips past Matt Janning of Northeastern, but misses an easy layup during the first half in the first round of the NIT Championship. (March 16, 2010) Photo Credit: MCT/John Woike

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.

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