In what was supposed to be the year which UConn struggled out of the gate and dropped a few early contests, the 2016-2017 UConn Huskies women's basketball team (16-0, 4-0 the American) has defied expectations and just broke the NCAA Division I record against SMU (10-7, 1-3 the American) for the most consecutive victories, with 91 in a row, by a score of 88-48. The No. 1 ranked Huskies dismantled SMU behind a 26-2 first quarter in which four different Huskies outscored the entire Mustang squad.
Right out of the gate there was no doubt in the outcome of the game as the Huskies came out firing on all cylinders and jumped out to a 21-0 lead. SMU did not score their first basket until 2:05 left in the first quarter as the Mustangs went 1-17 from the field. Sophomores Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson stole the show early on as Samuelson led the way with 10 points on 4-8 shooting and Collier put in nine points on 3-5 shooting.
Although the offensive stats jumped out for UConn in the first, the Huskies were able to extend their lead on defense as their five blocks and three steals helped create easy transition layups and open jumpers. The Huskies finished the first quarter with a 24-point cushion and were able to turn the majority of fans in Moody Coliseum not already wearing blue into UConn fans.
Even though they were down 24 points, the Mustangs showed great resiliency to start the second quarter of play as they strengthened up their interior defense and forced the Huskies into tough shots and passes. SMU started the quarter on a 7-2 run and were able to knock down their lone three-pointer of the game. The Mustangs fell off in the final two-and-a-half minutes of the quarter as they were held scoreless and missed their final four shots.
Samuelson took over the latter portion of the second quarter as she scored another 10 points in 10 minutes of play. Her 20 points in the first half were a game-high as she was 8-15 from the field and tallied four rebounds and two assists, helping UConn lead 44-18. Joining Samuelson in filling up the stat sheet was junior Gabby Williams, who had six points, seven rebounds, five assists, two blocks and no turnovers.
Forward Alicia Froling led the way for SMU at half with 10 points and eight rebounds as she was the lone Mustang scorer above three points. This was the Huskies' 15th consecutive game leading at half as they were able to outscore SMU 18-8 in the paint and held them to 20 percent shooting from the floor.
Picking up right where they left off in the second, following a SMU jumper, the Huskies were able to jump out to a 6-0 run. Samuelson added another five points in the quarter but it was the play of senior Saniya Chong in the last two minutes of the quarter that allowed UConn to go on another 8-0. The guard was able to hit back to back threes and force a steal leading to an easy layup for Williams. At the end of the third quarter the Huskies led 69-34 as Collier was able to fly under the radar with a sublime 17 points, 16 rebounds and six blocks.
In the fourth, the Mustangs scored a quick four points but then proceeded to go 1-14 from the field as the Huskies ripped off an 18-2 run. Senior Tierney Lawlor was able to record her first point of the season on a made free throw with under a minute to go as the Huskies shot 11-14 from the line and 47 percent from the field.
Samuelson led all scorers with 28 points, which was one short of her season high against Dayton, while Froling was the lone SMU player above seven points, as she finished with 16 and a team-high 12 rebounds. With the win over SMU, the Huskies have now won 118 straight against unranked opponents and moved to 67-0 in the history of the American Athletic Conference.
Matt Kren is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.