Jim Calhoun was advised not to return to the bench so soon after back surgery, and was supposed to take it easy if he did.
So much for following doctor’s orders.
Calhoun, who was out on medical leave for more than a month, was back pacing the sidelines and screaming yesterday, leading Connecticut to a 74-65 win over Pittsburgh in Storrs, Conn.
“He was there to be our backbone when they was making runs,’’ Huskies guard Ryan Boatright said. “It was just a whole ’nother vibe with him back on the sidelines.’’
The surgeon who performed spinal surgery on the coach Monday was watching from the stands, according to associate coach George Blaney, who handled postgame media duties for the exhausted Calhoun.
“I walked into the locker room and he was standing there and I said, ‘I knew you were going to be here,’ ’’ Blaney said. “He just smiled at me, and then we just went out there and performed today.’’
Shabazz Napier scored 23 points, including a big 3-pointer with a minute left, and Roscoe Smith added 14 points and seven rebounds for the Huskies (18-12, 8-10 Big East), who kept alive hopes for an at-large bid to defend their NCAA championship.
J.J. Moore led Pittsburgh (16-15, 5-13) with 16 points.
The Panthers came back from a 14-point halftime deficit to take a 61-60 lead with 2:51 left on a 3-pointer by Tray Woodall, but could not hold on and lost for the sixth time in seven games.
Colonial Athletic Association quarterfinals - Joel Smith and Quincy Ford each scored 17 points for Northeastern (14-17) but Virginia Commonwealth (26-6) pulled away from a 26-26 tie at halftime to eliminate the Huskies, 75-65, in Richmond, Va. Rob Brandenberg (19 points) and Treveon Graham (16) came off the bench to spark the Rams’ second-half surge. Brandenberg sank three 3-pointers during a 22-7 run midway through the second half that helped VCU blow the game open. The Huskies shot 51 percent, but had 25 turnovers that the Rams turned into 25 points - 16 in the second half . . . Chris Fouch had 14 points to pace Drexel (26-5) to its 18th straight win, 59-47, over UNC Wilmington (10-21) . . . Kent Bazemore scored 24 points to power Old Dominion (20-12) to an 88-74 win over Delaware (18-13) . . . Bryon Allen’s reverse layup with 3.4 seconds remaining lifted George Mason (24-8) to a 61-59 victory over Georgia State (21-11).
America East quarterfinals - In West Hartford, Conn., Matt Glass scored 16 points and Luke Apfeld added 12 points and seven rebounds as Vermont (21-11) got past Maine, 50-40, to gain a spot in the semifinals. Alasdair Fraser scored 10 points for the Black Bears (12-17) . . . Gerardo Suero scored 24 points to lead Albany (19-13) to a 63-45 win over New Hampshire. Patrick Konan had 12 points for the Wildcats (13-16) . . . Tommy Brenton had a double-double to lead four scorers in double figures, helping Stony Brook (21-8) earn a 78-69 win over Binghamton (2-29).
Fairfield 65, Rider 63 - Rakim Sanders scored 15 points and the Stags (17-13) edged the Broncs (13-18) in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference quarterfinal in Springfield.
Penn 68, Yale 47 - Zack Rosen scored 20 points and the host Quakers (19-11, 11-2) kept pace with Harvard in the Ivy League race by routing the Bulldogs (19-9, 9-5). Penn remained a half-game behind the Crimson, with one game remaining Tuesday night at Princeton.
Columbia 61, Dartmouth 55 - Jvonte Brooks scored 17 points for the Big Green (5-25, 1-13 Ivy) but the Lions (15-15, 4-10) pulled away for the home win.
Princeton 81, Brown 47 - Matt Sullivan scored 12 points but the visiting Bears (8-23, 2-12 Ivy) shot 29 percent from the field in getting drubbed by the host Tigers (18-11, 9-4).
Stonehill 73, UMass-Lowell 61 - In Easton, Andre Tongo scored 23 points and was named the Most Valuable Player as the Skyhawks (21-8) knocked off the River Hawks (19-10) in the Northeast-10 Conference title game and earn an automatic berth in the Division 2 NCAA Tournament, their first since 1989.
Division 3 NCAA Tournament - Noel Hollingsworth tied a career high by scoring 37 points and added 12 rebounds as third-ranked MIT (27-1) blew past Farmingdale State, 83-63, in Oneonta, N.Y., to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history . . . Aaron Toomey scored a career-high 34 points and second-ranked Amherst (26-2) rolled past visiting New York University, 80-56. Kyle Stockmal (Watertown) scored 14 points for NYU (21-6) . . . Ryan Sharry had 21 points and 15 rebounds and host Middlebury (26-3) advanced with an 89-73 win over 16th-ranked Albertus Magnus (28-2). Ray Askew had 26 points for the Falcons . . . Brian Salzillo scored 15 points and sank a 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds left to deliver No. 21 Eastern Connecticut State (24-5) a 70-69 win over host Oswego State (26-4) . . . Terrance Favors and Jerome Cohen combined for 20 points and 15 rebounds but Scranton (22-7) pulled away for a 69-41 win over Becker (24-5) in Wayne, N.J. . . . Coming off a 52-point performance in an opening-round win, DaQuan Brooks added 22 points in his final game for Western Connecticut State as ninth-ranked Franklin & Marshall (27-2) held off the Colonials (21-7) in Lancaster, Pa., to advance . . . Mike Akinrola scored 23 points but Rhode Island College (23-7) closed out its season with a 77-67 loss to host Staten Island (26-4).
ECAC New England Division 3 semifinals - Senior Jaime Shannon scored 17 points and host WPI (19-7) blew out Bridgewater State, 75-50, to advance to today’s final . . . Ryan Birrell scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half and added 11 rebounds and nine assists as Salve Regina rallied to get past Elms, 70-59.