After playing two of its closest games this season in the past week, the UConn women’s basketball team was facing harsh criticism from head coach Geno Auriemma. The Huskies responded by dominating Temple as they have most opponents this season, playing to a 113-57 victory on Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia.
“If I could have it my way, we would give every person that came tonight their money back,” head coach Geno Auriemma said of the Huskies’ performance. “That was the most disgraceful effort I’ve seen from Connecticut in the 32 years I’ve been here.”
The Huskies’ usual starters played the entire first quarter and got UConn off to their standard hot start. Napheesa Collier, a junior forward, had 10 points by the end of the first period, ultimately finishing with 19 points on 9-18 shooting. Senior guard Kia Nurse was lights out from 3-point range, finishing 5-7 from beyond the arc on the way to a 17-point performance.
The Longhorns are one of the best in the country at offensive rebounding, ranking seventh in Division I with 17 offensive boards per game. Junior center Jatarie White leads the charge on the glass with a team-leading 6.1 rebounds per game, including 2.6 offensive rebounds.
The Cougars (14-5, 3-2 the American), who aren’t opposed to playing at a fast pace themselves, could not keep up with UConn as the Huskies capitalized on nearly every Houston mistake to take a 23-4 lead into the second quarter.
Houston has nearly reached its win total four games into the 2017 campaign. The Cougars were undefeated in conference and tied for first place with the Huskies until a loss to Cincinnati on Wednesday ended Houston’s six-game winning streak.
Espinoza-Hunter, a freshman, has played seven games for the Huskies this season, averaging two points in seven minutes per game. She had missed the last five games, with UConn head coach Geno Auriemma citing “personal reasons” for Espinoza-Hunter’s absence.
The Huskies struggled mightily with UCF’s physical style of play in the first half. The refs officiated the game with consistent no-calls for a lot of contact, but several of UConn’s players did not respond well to that.
The buzz of the sold-out crowd of 15,564 at the XL Center in Hartford was exciting. It’s been a while since the old Civic Center had seen its seats completely filled. No matter what UConn men’s basketball looks like, old Big East foe and 2016 national champions Villanova will bring people to the stands.
Tomorrow’s matchup won’t be quite as thrilling as the last—Villanova is widely accepted as the best team in the nation, sitting at No. 1 in the AP poll, No. 3 in RPI and No. 1 in KenPom. The Wildcats’ only loss was a 101-93 shocker against Big East rival Butler, but they will bring a four-game win streak to Hartford.
The sole job of a coach is to guide the team, to get them to reach their potential and figure out how to play the five best players on the court and have them play smoothly. Coaches call the plays. Coaches don’t continue to tolerate the same mistakes over and over. Coaches keep their players’ heads in the game. Ollie does all of these things poorly.
The Huskies shot just 37 percent from the field and 24 percent from 3-point range. They made just 17 field goals (eight assists) while turning the ball over 17 times. The Tigers finished with an 38-24 edge in rebounding.
The UConn men's basketball team will get a chance to further improve its conference play record when UConn take on Memphis tonight on the road.
The Huskies (10-7, 3-2 The American) are currently riding a three-game winning streak, racking up wins over ECU, UCF and Tulane after dropping their first two games in conference play. Coach Kevin Ollie has found a lot more consistency in his lineups as well—the starting five of Jalen Adams, Christian Vital, Terry Larrier, Isaiah Whaley and Josh Carlton has not changed since playing the Pirates.
Jalen Adams played one of his best games of the season to power the Huskies (10-7, 3-2 The American), posting 25 points, five rebounds and six assists. Adams scored 20 of his points in the second half to keep Tulane (11-6, 2-3 The American) out of reach down the stretch.
"Everything coach is asking them—rebounding, boxing out, offensively, defensively, show on screens, set good screens, finish when they get the ball—they’re doing everything the coaches and the other players could ask for. Big props to them. They’re really helping us.”
The Huskies have found success at home this season, winning seven of their eight home games with their only loss coming at the hands of No. 8 Wichita State on December 30th. Specifically, UConn is 3-0 at Gampel this season, the most recent Gampel victory being the infamous Coppin State game on December 9th.