NEW YORK— Every time the No. 6 Maryland Terrapins made an attempt to control the game, the No. 1 UConn Huskies answered showing they are the most complete team in the country.
The No. 1 UConn Huskies defeated the No. 6 Maryland Terrapins 83-73 in the Maggie Dixon Classic at Madison Square Garden.
When the Terps made it a 75-71 game with a minute remaining, the Huskies administered the knockout blow. With the shot clock winding down, junior guard Saniya Chong hit a three-pointer from the corner to ice the game in her first game back from an early season injury.
The Ossining, New York native was glad that UConn head coach Geno Auriemma trusted her to be on the court during such a crucial moment in just her first game back.
“It felt really great,” Chong said. “I haven’t been able to play in many games so going out there and hitting that three felt really great.”
Maryland’s junior forward Brionna Jones led all scorers with 24 points. Jones, who leads the nation in field goal percentage, was 12-for-14 from the field.
Breanna Stewart was UConn’s leading scorer with 23 points. With the performance Stewart also moved into sixth place on UConn’s all-time scoring list, passing Diana Taurasi.
Although the Huskies played a relatively sloppy first quarter, where they turned the ball over nine times, they held a 21-14 lead after the quarter.
Jones was a bright spot for the Terps in the first quarter scoring eight points without missing a shot.
The pace of the game picked up in the second quarter as Maryland fought its way back into the game. The Terps scored six straight points to open the quarter and tie the game at 21 on a three pointer from Chloe Pavlech.
After sitting out most of the first quarter in foul trouble, Walker-Kimbrough made her presence known in the second quarter by scoring nine points.
Maryland took a 29-27 lead with a put back layup from Malina Howard that forced UConn to call a timeout with 3:19 left in the quarter.
The Huskies responded well to the timeout as they outscored Maryland 9-3 to end the half with a 36-32 lead.
In the third quarter Maryland continued to hang around. A pair of three points from Kristen Confroy capped off an 8-0 run that tied the game at 40. Minutes later a three pointer from Kia Nurse gave UConn a 46-43 lead that they would not relinquish for the rest of the game.
This type of back and forth game was a learning experience for both teams.
“Sometimes we make it look real easy, but we try to explain to our players that it’s not easy and it is not going to be easy,” UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said. “A game like today reminds all of us that this is not supposed to be easy.”
For Maryland, playing the Huskies so tough was a great measuring stick, as they get ready for conference play.
“Obviously nobody wants to lose but I am really proud of the fact that we responded punch for punch,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said. “When you look at UConn and the games they’ve played in, usually that knockout punch comes and you don’t recover. I love the confidence and the swagger that we played with.”
Morgan Tuck, who had 17 points on the night, scored her 1,000th career point as a Husky.