For the second season in a row, No. 1 UConn showed No. 2 South Carolina how large the divide between the top teams in the country is.
The Huskies defeated the Gamecocks 66-54 in a non-conference road test where their experienced trio of Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck shined bright against a South Carolina team that so desperately wanted the spotlight.
With the victory, UConn extended its winning streak to 60 games.
The trio combined for 53 of UConn’s points. Stewart led all scorers with 25 points, in addition to 10 rebounds and five blocks. Tuck added 16 points and five rebounds. Jefferson had 12 points and six assists.
The Huskies were certainly familiar to the big stage, playing in their 22nd No. 1 versus No. 2 game. UConn improved to 19-3 all-time in those matchups. UConn also improved to 4-0 all time against South Carolina.
UConn’s leaders set the tone early in the first quarter. Stewart and Tuck got the scoring going with layups to take a 4-0 lead. After South Carolina tied the game at 4-4, the Huskies went on a run. A pair of free throws by Stewart, a jump shot and layup from Jefferson followed by a Tuck layup gave UConn a 12-4 lead.
The Huskies’ defense had South Carolina out of sorts in the early going as South Carolina had three shot clock violations in the first quarter. UConn finished the quarter leading 17-8.
The game took an unfortunate turn for South Carolina in the second quarter when A’ja Wilson went down with a leg injury. Wilson was pacing the Carolina offense with eight early points. UConn was leading 30-15 when Wilson went back to the locker room.
South Carolina ended the quarter well as they could without Wilson, they headed into the break down 35-25.
Things started to head downhill for South Carolina in the third quarter. UConn opened the quarter with four straight points from Tuck. Both teams fell into a scoring drought in the middle of the quarter.
UConn was able to find success by getting into the lane. A layup from Gabby Williams started a 10-2 run for the Huskies to give UConn a 54-33 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Williams finished with five points and 10 rebounds off the bench.
South Carolina was able to make things respectable by closing the gap in the fourth quarter, but the game was already decided.
Both teams were below their season averages for scoring, but UConn was able to shoot 42 percent from the field, largely due to the nine for 18 effort from Stewart and the six for 13 shooting from Tuck.
South Carolina shot 37 percent from the field in the game. Wilson finished with 13 points after returning to the game late in the fourth quarter. Tiffany Mitchell had 12 points for South Carolina.
Spencer Mayfield is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.