LAHAINA >> Oregon opened the Maui Invitational with a disappointing loss, won in overtime and closed with a click-on-all-cylinders win.
Winning the tournament was the goal, but getting better with each game wasn’t a bad consolation.
Chris Boucher scored 21 points, Tyler Dorsey added 19 and No. 13 Oregon beat Connecticut 79-69 in today’s fifth-place game of the Maui Invitational.
“Obviously, we still have a lot of stuff we need to work on offensively and defensively, but I think we took a step,” said Oregon forward Jordan Bell, who had 12 points. “I think every game we got a little better.”
Oregon (4-2) lost its opener to Georgetown, but bounced back with an overtime victory over Tennessee on Dillon Brooks’ long 3-pointer. The Ducks wanted to get off to a fast start in their Maui finale and did just that, racing to a 15-point lead in the opening 4 1/2 minutes.
UConn (2-4) chipped into the lead by halftime, but the Ducks started flying again, building the lead back up to 17.
Dylan Ennis added 15 points for Oregon, which shot 54 percent and made 9 of 21 from 3-point range.
Jalen Adams led the Huskies with 27 points and Rodney Purvis added 13.
“Comes down to fundamentals: play defense and execute on offense,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. “I don’t know what else to say. Energy and you’ve got to play defense. They made shots and we didn’t make shots. Simple game. There’s no secret to it.”
The Ducks attacked the Huskies from the opening tip, scoring the game’s first 10 points, racing out to an 18-point lead.
Ollie called a timeout 41 seconds into the game and Adams, the Huskies’ leading scorer, headed to the bench at 17:03 after picking up his second foul.
“I don’t think we were just playing with the intensity we should have,” Adams said. “We didn’t match their intensity or their energy and I think we have to work on that. We’ve got to build on that.”
Oregon pushed the lead to 21, but the Huskies came roaring back.
UConn started hitting shots it was missing earlier, while the Ducks went more than 8 minutes without a field goal, trimming the lead to 39-28 by halftime.
Oregon revved up again to start the second half, hitting 5 of its first 7 shots to push the lead to 53-34.
UConn had one more run. The Huskies whittled away at the lead and got it down to eight with 3 minutes left, but couldn’t make up any more ground.
“I just thought our energy level today was much better because of the ball movement and getting some shots down,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said.