Heading into the season, most of the talk around the UConn women’s basketball team centered around replacing the Huskies’ trio of Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck. While it would be nearly impossible to immediately match the production of the winningest class in college basketball, Kia Nurse, Katie Lou Samuelson and Gabby Williams were expected to shoulder most of the load for the No. 3-ranked Huskies.
But in UConn’s season opener on the road against No. 12 Florida State, it was sophomore Napheesa Collier who stepped up for the Huskies, scoring a career-high 28 points and adding a team-high eight rebounds to help propel UConn (1-0) to a 78-76 victory. The two-point victory was the first single-digit win for the Huskies since a 71-65 win over St. Johns on Feb. 2, 2013.
After a Saniya Chong 3-pointer gave the Huskies their largest lead of the night with 2:34 left in the fourth quarter, Florida State charged back, scoring six unanswered points before a floater from Chong made it 75-71 with one minute remaining. After Imani Wright drained a 3-pointer to pull the Seminoles (1-1) within one, Collier was fouled on the other end and hit two free throws.
With UConn up three with less than 20 seconds left, Kia Nurse fouled Brittany Brown on a 3-point attempt, giving FSU a chance to tie it up. Brown hit only two of three free throws before Crystal Dangerfield gathered the rebound and hit one of two free throws to seal the Huskies’ victory.
Wright finished the game as the Seminoles’ leading scorer with 25 points. Brown added 16 for FSU and was joined by Shakayla Thomas (14 points) and Ivey Slaughter (12) in double figures. Aside from Collier’s 28 points, Chong and Samuelson were the Huskies’ only scorers in double digits, with 16 and 14 points respectively. Chong also added a team-high six assists for the Huskies, with her and Nurse fouling out in the game’s final minute.
UConn faced adversity right out of the gate, with Williams drawing three fouls less than halfway into the opening quarter, leaving UConn without one of their best rebounders. Williams would sit out the remainder of the first half before playing nearly the entire second half, logging seven points and six rebounds.
FSU continued to command the remainder of the first half, leading for a majority of the second quarter before finishing the half with a 34-30 lead. The Seminoles would continue to lead more than 3:20 into the third quarter before a layup from Chong tied the game at 59. UConn would outscore FSU 48-42 in the final two quarters on 52.9 percent shooting to seal their 76th-straight victory.