By Gene Phelps
INDIANAPOLIS Connecticut’s run to the Final Four turned into more of a trot here Thursday in the opening round of the NCAA’s Southeast Regional.
The top-seeded Huskies opened a 17-point halftime lead and then yawned their way through the second half in a 68-59 victory over the 16th-seeded Colgate Red Raiders.
“We did slow down in the second half,” said UConn All-America guard Ray Allen, who scored a game-high 24 points. “We didn’t pass the ball as well in the second half.”
Allen scored 17 of his points in the first half, but hit just 1-of-8 from the field in the final 20 minutes. Guard Doron Sheffer added 19 points to the Huskies’ effort.
Colgate (15-15) was led by center Adonal Foyle, who scored 21 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked six shots. Guard Seth Schaeffer added 18 points for the Red Raiders.
The victory sends the Huskies (31-2) into Saturday’s second round game against Eastern Michigan, a 75-60 winner over Duke.
“I thought we did a pretty good job early,” UConn coach Jim Calhoun said. “I was stunned that we only scored 25 points in the second half. Some of that was because we played the clock. We played well, but we didn’t play well for 40 minutes.”
Calhoun said the Huskies were also upset with the first-half injury to backup point guard Ricky Moore, who suffered a subluxed right shoulder.
Colgate made a run late, but could only cut UConn’s lead to nine points. Back-to-back to layups by Sheffer to push the Huskies lead back to 68-54 with five minutes remaining. One of his baskets resulted in a foul and a 3-point play.
“They fell asleep a lot on Doran (Sheffer),” Calhoun said. “He got the simple layups on a pick-and-roll play. That’s what’s good about this team. Everybody does their thing.”
E. Michigan 75, Duke 60: Eastern Michigan shot the lights out in the second half, hitting for 69 percent from the field to bury Duke. The score was tied 26-26 at halftime.
Guards Earl Boykins, 23 points, and Brian Tolbert, 20 points, paced the Eagles (25-5).
“In the first half we were looking at the Duke on their shirts,” Tolbert said. “In the second half we played the guys in the shirts.”
For Duke (18-13), Jeff Capel and Greg Newton scored 15 points apiece.