Thanks to a career-high 20 points from Kia Nurse, the No. 1 UConn Huskies defeated East Carolina 92-46 at Gampel Pavilion on Saturday.
After being held scoreless in UConn’s 96-38 victory over Tulane on Wednesday, Nurse wanted to right the ship on the offensive end. Nurse focused on having a different mentality heading into the matchup with East Carolina.
“I think I was just more loose today in warm ups and not overthinking anything or overthinking any possibilities or results of the game,” Nurse said. “When I don’t think as much I always play better.”
Nurse wasted no time getting things going with a jumper in the lane that gave UConn a 4-0 lead in the opening minutes. Nurse capped off an 11-0 opening run with a three pointer that left East Carolina trying to regroup with a timeout three minutes into the game.
UConn kept the pressure on the rest of the quarter bumping the lead up to 14 before I’Tiana Taylor scored the first basket for East Carolina on a layup.
The Huskies end the quarter leading 27-10. Nurse led all scorers with eight points in the quarter. Morgan Tuck added seven points and four rebounds of her own.
The second quarter was more of the same UConn dominance. Nurse hit a three-pointer followed by a layup to open the quarter as the Huskies went on a 9-0 run. Sparking offense based on the defensive end was huge for UConn. The Huskies forced 24 turnovers and scored 39 points off of those turnovers.
“I think it starts on defense for us,” Moriah Jefferson said. “If we come out and get stops the shots are going to fall. And then we are going to keep pressuring them and turnover after turnover will come.”
Jefferson finished the game with 16 points, eight assists and three steals.
At the half the Huskies led 52-23 in what was another solid team effort.
The Huskies went on another classic run in the third quarter. UConn finished off the quarter on a 19-4 run that put them up 80-35. UConn finished the game with 22 assists as a team, a number UConn head coach Geno Auriemma is happy to see.
“That’s just the way we play,” Auriemma said. “We put a real high premium on passing the ball to a guy that’s open. We try to make everybody on our team a better passer than they were when we got here.”
Breanna Stewart had another solid all-around game totaling 17 points, 10 rebounds, fours assists, two blocks and three steals.
Jada Payne was the leading scorer for ECU with 15 points.
UConn entered this game with an average margin of victory of 41.4 points. This is the eighth straight game that the Huskies have on by 40 or more points.
With a huge matchup with No. 2 South Carolina looming on Monday, today’s win was a nice confidence builder for the Huskies.
“I think the game today was a good test for that,” Jefferson said. “[ECU] was really physical and aggressive on the boards. It gave us a test of what we are going to get on Monday.”
Spencer Mayfield is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering women's basketball. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.