Led by Napheesa Collier and Gabby Williams, the UConn women’s basketball team routed Pace University in their final preseason game 95-32 Sunday afternoon.
Williams managed 24 points and 10 rebounds, while Collier had 11 points and 11 boards. Williams scored 17 of her 24 points in the first quarter.
“Gabby did awesome today. She has come such a far way even from last year. She’s taking more of a leadership role on and off the court,” Collier said.
The Huskies came out in a full court press early, utilizing their athleticism and size to overwhelm the Setters. UConn was able to force turnovers and as a result got the game started off on a 31-0 run. Pace’s first points of the game came with a minute left in the first quarter.
“We have been really focused on our defense. Our defense is what is going to win our games this year, but we can’t forget about our offense,” Williams said.
Sophomore Katie Lou Samuelson was notably missing for most of the game. The reigning ESPNW National Freshman of the Year did not enter the game until the fifth minute of the third quarter.
“You are supposed to try and use exhibition games for a reason. Some of these guys they only play when the games kind of already decided and out of hand. They never get a chance to go out there with the starting line up or play significant minutes,” head coach Geno Auriemma said. “Sometimes players like Lou they just kind of coast through things during the exhibition season, they wait for the big games to come.”
In the second quarter the Huskies continued their dominance once again limiting the Setters to only six points.
At the half, the Huskies had a resounding 59-9 lead and out-rebounded the Setters 26-15 in a game that was one sided from the opening tip. UConn also went 24-59 (41.7 percent) on field goals in the first half and 5-12 from three-point range.
UConn got the second half started with their starting five as coach Auriemma looked to give his starting unit some reps before the team's first regular season game next week against Florida State.
The Setters showed some signs of life in the third quarter, equaling UConn’s point total for the quarter. However it was a case of too little too late.
In his postgame press conference coach Auriemma emphasized the role of every single player this year. This is of course coming in the wake of the team losing three vital seniors in Breanna Stewart, Morgan Tuck and Moriah Jefferson.
“To a point it doesn’t matter what the competition is. But I think that today and going forward we need a positive contribution from everybody we put on the floor,” Auriemma said. “There isn’t anyone is that has the luxury of going out there and just being a role player. We need everybody to go out there and have a very significant role this year.”
Antonio Salazar is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.