Timely three pointers helped the No. 2 UConn Huskies cruise through the fourth quarter to defeat the No. 14 Texas Longhorns by a score of 72-54. Four different Huskies hit shots from behind the arc, as they went 8-16 from deep, matching their third best total of the season.
Early in the game, UConn found themselves in an unfamiliar situation; they had six turnovers and were trailing a Texas team which came out with more energy and passion. The Huskies were able to stem the early tide behind the arc, as sophomore Napheesa Collier and freshman Crystal Dangerfield both hit crucial threes in the first quarter.
In the game versus DePaul, it was the opening quarter which got UConn the victory as it was the second quarter where the Huskies were able to turn things around. Behind four three pointers, the Huskies were able to bury the Longhorns and outscore them by 11 points in the quarter. Junior Kia Nurse was the catalyst to the Huskies success in the second quarter as she started on a personal seven nothing run and hit two big three pointers, helping to give UConn a lead they would not let go of.
“Napheesa being able to step out and hit those threes, I thought really shook our confidence a little bit,” Texas head coach Karen Aston commented following the game. “Napheesa really changed the game in the second quarter; we did not have an answer for her.”
Collier, who finished the day with a game-high 24 points, was able to knock down a pair of threes in the game, as this allowed the Huskies to space out the floor and make Texas play defense further away from the basket. With Texas having a massive advantage in height and rebounding ability, the Huskies had a tall task ahead of them, and were able to overcome a 31-24 rebounding disadvantage with eight threes.
“By making ourselves a threat on the three point line it opens up the lane, as they have to come out to guard us,” the game-high scorer Napheesa Collier said. “It [the three point ball] is pretty important for us.”
In the second half, UConn hit two three pointers, as sophomore Katie Lou Samuleson who went scoreless in the first half, was able to hit her lone three which then gave UConn a 47-39 lead. Samuelson, the team’s best three pointer shooter, was the last to cash in for the Huskies as she was 1-3 on the day from behind the arc.
“People have to step up and make some shots,” head coach Geno Auriemma said. “Once they did Napheesa and Kia especially, we got a little bit more comfortable.”
The Longhorns this season are known for their size not their three point ability, as coming into the game only one Texas player, guard Brooke McCarty, has made more than five threes. Today, McCarty was able to drop in three, three pointers, on 3-7 shooting as the Longhorns as a whole shot a putrid 5-14 from behind the arc. On the season they are now shooting under 35 percent from three point land.
Despite their three point shooting woes, Texas prides itself in its three point defense, as coming into the UConn game; the Longhorns were holding their opponents to 26.9 percent from three. The Huskies shot a blistering 61.5 percent from three in the first three quarters as the Longhorns were unable to run the Huskies off the line. 26 turnovers combined with allowing the opponent to hit 50 percent from behind the arc is not a formula for success.
UConn was ranked third in the nation coming into this game with a 43.6 percent success rate from behind the arc, as their eight makes today will help push them even further up the list.
“It was a great win for us to see how we can grind things out and push through for a full 40 minutes,” replied junior Kia Nurse on today’s performance. “We know each game is going to be a fight and Texas came out ready to go, gave us a test right away and we had to bounce back.”
Matt Kren is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.