The No. 18 Connecticut Huskies got their season off to a winning start with a 78-77 victory against Maryland on Friday.
While Connecticut nearly led wire-to-wire, the two teams traded runs to keep the game close. The Huskies built a double-digit lead on several occasions, leading by as many as 17 points. The Terrapins made runs of their own and the game came down to the final possession. Dez Wells had a chance to give Maryland the lead late, but missed and the Huskies held on for the win.
Connecticut got off to a strong start, building a 10-point lead in the first six minutes of the game. Maryland made a late run in the half, before the Huskies pulled away in the last three minutes to take a 48-36 lead into halftime.
It was more of the same early in the second half, and the Huskies led 67-50 with 11:43 to play. That lead didn't last long, however, with Maryland mounting an 11-0 run to cut the lead to six. The teams went back-and-forth for much of the final 10 minutes with the Terrapins slowly chipping away at the lead. Maryland cut Connecticut's lead to 78-77 with less than a minute to play. The Terrapins had two opportunities on separate possessions to take the lead in the final seconds, but Wells missed both shots.
Shabazz Napier led the way for the Huskies, finishing with 18 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. The senior fouled out late in the game, and Connecticut struggled from the foul line to close the game out. Nick Faust led Maryland with 17 points.
This is the second straight season Maryland opened with a close loss. The Terrapins lost, 72-69, to then No. 3 Kentucky last season.