In the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, the UConn women’s basketball wasted no time putting Robert Morris away, getting out to a 41-4 lead at the end of the first quarter en route to a 101-49 victory.
The second round matchup against Duquesne was a different story.
UConn struggled out of the gate, allowing the Dukes to stick around for upwards of 15 minutes before late second-quarter surge led to a 97-51 victory at Gampel Pavilion, sealing the Huskies’ 23rd-straight Sweet 16 appearance.
“I had a sense that the game was going to start a little bit funny because [the seniors] are emotional and they’re in a hurry to get up a bunch,” UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said. “Once we got that squared away, you knew once they settled in what was going to happen.”
The Huskies struggled out of the gate, shooting just 36 percent from the field in the first quarter. The Dukes were equally unimpressive from the field, but hung around due to success from beyond the arc, hitting four 3-pointers in the first quarter to trail UConn 20-14 after one period of play.
“You couldn’t be any more proud of how we came out in the first quarter,” Duquesne head coach Dan Burt said. “We didn’t play perfect by any stretch, I wouldn’t even say we played great in the first quarter, we played well.”
Duquesne continued to stick around early into the second quarter, but the Huskies asserted control due to impressive defensive performances on back-to-back possessions.
Senior Breanna Stewart blocked three consecutive shot by the Dukes to force the first shot clock violation with eight and a half minutes remaining and UConn did so again on Duquesne’s next trip down.
“To be able to block three shots was huge just because it was a huge momentum shift,” Stewart said. “I was trying to just to do anything to disrupt defensively and blocking shots is something that I enjoy doing.”
The Huskies would then rattle off a 22-4 run over the final six and a half minutes of the first half to take a 42-21 lead, largely in part to seven points from forward Morgan Tuck.
“That second quarter, we got punched in the face,” Burt said.
UConn put the game away for good in the third quarter, outscoring the Dukes 27-12 to make it 69-33 and seal the Huskies’ 20th consecutive NCAA tournament win, tying in the longest streak in program history and one game shy of Tennessee’s 21-game streak from 1996-99.
Stewart and Moriah Jefferson would walk off the floor at Gampel Pavilion one last time with 5:49 left in the fourth quarter, joined by Morgan Tuck. Stewart led all scorers with 21 points and 16 rebounds, and Tuck and Jefferson contributed 20 each.