Johnnies Edge Past Huskies

With the ring finger on his right hand swollen to what looked like double the size, sophomore D’Angelo Harrison’s hands tell the story of the ups and downs of Wednesday night’s game against Connecticut and maybe of the season as a whole.

From that injured hand came the struggles of shooting 1-for-10 from the field in the first 17 minutes. That same hand — with the bloated “shooting finger,” as he called it — produced the stroke of a three-point shot with 2:55 remaining in the game to push momentum in the Red Storm’s (15-8, 7-4) favor . And that same hand sank a jumper with 50 seconds remaining that sealed the Red Storm’s 71-65 victory over the Huskies (15-6, 5-4).

“It’s just confidence,” Harrison said. “I was wide open and I missed some easy shots so I knew one of them was going to go in.”

It wasn’t all that easy, however, as the Johnnies blew a second-half lead yet again and dealt with uncharacteristic foul trouble to freshmen Chris Obekpa and JaKarr Sampson. Harrison spent almost eight minutes on the bench early in the second half so that he could see things more clearly.

“The thinking is sometimes when a player is going through a tough stretch, you can help them by sitting them on the bench,” head coach Steve Lavin said. “They often times see the game through a different prism or lense and sometimes, like smelling salts, you can sometimes snap a player back into focus.”

Seeing that kind of bench time can be difficult for a player who is used to playing major minutes, but Harrison took it with an “it’s his call” approach.

“I don’t have any control of the substituting; I’m here to play,” Harrison said. “We went on a run actually when I was out of the game, but then they ended up coming back when I was out of the game too. So coach, he made a call, I came back and I delivered and we won the game.”

Sampson led the team with 18 points, while Harrison and junior Marco Bourgault both contributed 11 points. Sophomore Phil Greene added 10 points and six assists.

Connecticut was led by Omar Calhoun with 21 points, followed by Shabazz Napier with 14 points and Deandre Daniels with 12 points. At the halfway point, Calhoun and Daniels were the only two Huskies to have scored any points.

The Red Storm have now won six out of their last seven and will head to Syracuse to take on the Orange, whether Harrison’s finger, which has no bone damage, likes it or not.

“Stick with it, no excuses,” he said. “I’ve never played with any excuses before so we’re just grinding it out.”