HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Point guard Alterique Gilbert scored 21 points to lead UConn over the University of New Hampshire 88-62 on Sunday.
Gilbert, who had scored a combined nine points over the previous two games, took over early in the second half with his own 9-0 run to make it 52-37 with 15:57 remaining.
“Just confidence and I think it’s a mindset as well,” Gilbert said. “Just blocking everything out and knowing why you are here. I play the game just to have fun, I have fun with it and I really enjoyed it today.”
The red-shirt junior shot 6-for-12 from the field, 3-for-5 on 3-pointers and 6 of 6 at the foul line. He finished three points shy of his career high (24), which came against Florida State last season.
“Their guards totally dominated us,” UNH coach Bill Herrion said. “It was (Christian) Vital early … and then obviously Gilbert went crazy on us in the second half and we had no answers for him.”
Vital added 15 points with a team-high seven rebounds for the Huskies (8-3), who never lost the double-digit lead in the final 15 minutes.
The Huskies shot 65% in the second half and were 5-of-10 on 3-pointers. Gilbert scored 13 points after the break and was key on the 14-3 opening run.
“I think Al had a really good approach, he let the game come to him,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. “He started the game with a mindset, a defensive mindset to start and he was going to get himself going offensively by being a pest defensively.
“He kind of let himself get into the flow that way instead of coming into the game being really offensive minded. I think his approach was great today.”
Freshmen James Bouknight (seven rebounds) and Akok Akok had 14 and 12 points, respectively. UConn was 11-for-24 on 3-pointers.
Nick Guadarrama led UNH (6-6) with 19 points and Jayden Martinez finished with 14.
UConn led 40-36 at the half behind 11 points from Vital and Gilbert’s eight. After shooting 1-for-6 to start from the 3-point line, the Huskies finished 6-for-14.
Guadarrama had nine first-half points for UNH, which was also 6-for-14 on 3s.
The Wildcats jumped out to an 18-9 lead with help from four 3-pointers and Hurley called a timeout with 12:29 remaining to settle his Huskies down.
Freshman Jalen Gaffney’s 3-pointer ignited a 15-0 run that pushed the Huskies ahead 24-18 with 7:56 to play. UNH missed all seven field-goal attempts over a four-minute, 58-second scoreless stretch.
“We just made an emphasis to get after them and run them off the 3-point line,” Gilbert said. “And get out in transition a little bit.”
New Hampshire: The Wildcats head into the break with a .500 record, but have already surpassed their win total (five) from last season.
UConn: The Huskies took much better care of the ball than their previous two games (48 combined turnovers) and improved to 6-1 at home this season.
FRESHMEN STANDOUTS: Bouknight and Gaffney played key roles on the 15-0 first-half run that would turn the game around for UConn. Each freshmen scored five points and Bouknight also blocked a shot as the Huskies took the lead for good.
STAT OF THE NIGHT: After committing 48 turnovers in the last two games, UConn returned to form and only had 10 — the fourth fewest this season — against the Wildcats. It started with Gilbert (three turnovers) and Vital (none), who came in having made 18 combined in previous two games.
New Hampshire is off until Dec. 30 when it hosts Dartmouth.
UConn returns to action on Dec. 29 when it hosts New Jersey Institute of Technology in its second-to-last non-league game.