STORRS, Conn. (AP) — Josh Carlton scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half to help UConn break open what had been a close game and beat Sacred Heart 89-67 on Friday night.
Christian Vital added 15 of his 17 points after intermission for UConn, which won its season opener for third straight year and 19th time in 20 seasons.
Carlton opened the second half with four straight baskets in the paint, part of a 14-2 run that turned a three-point halftime lead into a 54-39 advantage. Vital capped the run with a pair of 3-pointers that put the Huskies in control.
Brendan Adams, who finished with 15 points, gave the Huskies a 21-point lead at 64-43 with a 3-pointer from the left wing.
Sacred Heart scored 15 of the next 20 points, cutting the lead to 69-58 on a layup by Spellman.
But after a timeout, the Huskies scored the next 12 points to put the Pioneers away.
Kinnon LaRose had 15 points and E.J. Anosike finished with 12 points for Sacred Heart, which falls to 0-2. Anosike, who had 20 points in Sacred Heart’s first game, fouled out midway through the second half, joining teammate Zach Plaffenberger, who picked up four first-half fouls and committed another less than six minutes after intermission. Jarel Spellman, who scored 11 points, fouled out later in the half.
UConn led 40-37 at the halftime, despite being outrebounded 28-13 in the first 20 minutes, including 11-3 on the offensive end.
The Pioneers, who were blown out by Providence 106-60 in their opener, kept this one close by scoring 10 second-chance points in the first 20 minutes, while holding the Huskies to just three.
But Sacred Heart’s aggressive play underneath came at a price. The Pioneers picked up 21 fouls, 14 in the first half.
UConn: The game marked the debut of freshmen Akok Akok (four points), who started and guard Jalen Gaffney, who did not score in nine minutes off the bench. The Huskies played without highly touted freshman James Bouknight, who is serving a three-game suspension after being charged in a Sept. 27 one-car accident.
Sacred Heart: The Pioneers fall to 0-7 in the series. They lost the previous six by an average of 34 points. Spellman blocked a shot, giving him 99 in his career, the most by any Sacred Heart player since the Pioneers became a Division I program in 1999-2000.
Sacred Heart: The Pioneers are off until Nov. 16, when they travel to Binghamton.
UConn: The Huskies host St. Joseph’s next Wednesday.