NEW YORK (AP) — Jordan Hawkins scored 19 points and No. 11 Connecticut held off a furious second-half rally to beat Providence 73-66 on Thursday in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals.
The fourth-seeded Huskies (25-7) advanced to face top-seeded Marquette in Friday night’s semifinals at Madison Square Garden.
Playing in front of a packed house, heavy on Huskies fans, UConn led by as many as 26 with 12:30 left. The Friars (21-11) turned up the pressure and had the lead down to five several times in the final few minutes.
Alex Karaban made a 3 from the wing for UConn with a minute left to push the lead to 71-63. Noah Locke (14 points) responded with a 3 for Providence to cut the deficit to five, but the Friars didn’t score again as UConn pushed its winning streak to six games.
The Huskies will be making their third straight Big East Tournament semifinal appearance since rejoining the conference in 2020-21.
The Huskies have won this tournament seven times, second only to Georgetown’s eight, but they have not played in the championship game since 2011.
Bryce Hopkins scored 16 points to lead fifth-seeded Providence, which has lost three straight and four of five.
The first Big East Tournament meeting since 1998 between two of the conference’s original members was indicative of their recent trajectories for the first 33 minutes.
The Huskies got contributions from up and down the lineup and found good looks all over the floor.
Andre Jackson Jr. had an active all-around game with nine points, 11 rebounds and six assists and Tristen Newton scored 16 points with four 3s.
Providence was a step behind on defense and settling for 3s that weren’t going in (6 for 23).
Jackson’s transition dunk sparked an 8-1 closing run in the first half for UConn and 3s by Karaban and Newton started the second half as the Huskies lead reached 21 before many even had time to settle back into their seats.
Jackson turned a Providence giveaway into another fast-break dunk that made it 47-23 with 16:23 left. Friars coach Ed Cooley called a timeout to try to slow down the Huskies and regroup his team.
Providence managed to whittle the lead to five with 3:33 left, with its press rattling the Huskies. UConn turned it over 18 times.
Locke’s corner 3 for the Friars was followed by a steal in the backcourt and layup by Corey Floyd that made it 63-58 and forced UConn coach Dan Hurley into a timeout as Providence fans came to life.
Cooley came out of the timeout waving his arms to urge the crowd on and try to get his team all the way back.
But it was UConn that responded. Hawkins made a long 3 that reawakened the UConn fans and then the teams traded baskets.
Providence: The Friars head to the postseason hopeful that the late-season skid won’t cost them an NCAA Tournament bid. Defense has been a problem. Four of Providence’s last five opponents — including UConn twice — have shot better than 50% from the field.
UConn: The Huskies have won nine of 10 and, despite their seed, look like they could be the favorites to win this tournament.
Providence: A second straight NCAA Tournament appearance — probably.
UConn: The Huskies split with Marquette during the regular season, with each team winning at home.
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