Women's Basketball: Huskies one win away from history as Collier and Williams shine in rout

Huskies forward Napheesa Collier (24) takes a shot in the first half of UConn's 90-45 win over East Carolina on Jan. 4, 2017 at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut. (Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog)

Huskies forward Napheesa Collier (24) takes a shot in the first half of UConn's 90-45 win over East Carolina on Jan. 4, 2017 at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut. (Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog)

HARTFORD – One more win. That’s all the UConn Huskies women’s basketball team needs to tie their own record of 90 consecutive wins after defeating the East Carolina University Pirates Wednesday night by a score of 90-45.

In an absolute beat down, the Huskies led wire-to-wire on the back of an extremely efficient team shooting percentage (58 percent) and a barrage of points on the fast break. This UConn team looks poised to match the 2008-10 Huskies’ record of 90 consecutive wins and with performances as dominant as the one they just showed against the Pirates, they should have no trouble completing their mission.

Although one could assume there is a lot of pressure associated with breaking such an impressive record, this young UConn team looks stress-free and unemotional regarding the potential to go down in history, at least according to head coach Geno Auriemma.

“They’re determined to win. They don’t seem to play afraid, they don’t seem to play tentatively. They don’t get caught up in any of it,” Auriemma said. “This team, generally speaking, is kind of unemotional, duds. These guys are just like, ‘Eh, whatever. This is what we’re going to do.’”

Regardless of the current team’s emotions in getting one step closer to history, Wednesday night’s win brought UConn to an incredible record of 312-12 since the beginning of the 2008 season. Auriemma was amazed by the statistic when it was brought up to him, but suggested the lack of true upsets is the most incredible thing about the Huskies’ various win streaks over the years.

“The thing that I always land on when people ask me this stuff is that, up until today, we generally don’t lose games that we’re not supposed to lose,” Auriemma said. We don’t lose to teams that are not as good as we are. So we don’t show up and just go through the motions and mail it in and have an upset one night. The fact that that hasn’t happened is probably the most amazing thing. They expect to win, somehow, someway.”

Collier and Williams a dynamic duo in the paint
In particular, a huge part of UConn’s success this season has been the pure brilliance of sophomore forward Napheesa Collier. Offensively, Collier has an extensive repertoire of post moves and can score on every single one of them. She led all scorers Wednesday night with 21 points, one of five Huskies in double figures, and shot 8-11 from the floor – good for 73 percent shooting.

Those numbers are not out of the ordinary for Collier as she has truly become the backbone of the Huskies’ offense with her devastating efficiency, especially inside the paint. With the potential to hit threes every now and then and only getting better from the perimeter with each day, Collier could perhaps become one of the best pure scorers in the nation as well.

"[Collier] gets herself in good positions to score,” Gabby Williams said. “It definitely helps knowing that she can score inside, because the defense knows that too so they’re all going to crowd in and she can kick out and hit Lou [Samuelson], Kia [Nurse], or Saniya [Chong] for a three and it keeps the defense moving.”

Collier’s chemistry with the junior forward Williams has been especially important for the teams’ offense, since the two work off of each other very well with perfectly timed passes and an incredible understanding of where the other is going to be and when they’re going to be there.

“We have a lot of trust in each other right now,” Williams said. “I think we’ve gotten more reps together than anybody else. We’ve played a lot of minutes together and in a lot of different situations. We can find each other really well. I think we’re getting really good at finding each other and our teammates know where we like the ball. It’s a chemistry thing.”

Coach Auriemma agreed with Williams’ sentiment, suggesting that the sky is the limit for the dynamic duo of forwards.

“These guys get to play a lot of minutes together and they get to spend a lot of time on the court together in practice as well,” said Auriemma. “Gabby being such a good passer and seeing some things has really helped Napheesa. I just think that the two of them, there really aren’t a whole lot of limitations that they have. They’re not great at everything, but they are pretty good at just about everything.”

Next up, the Huskies will come back to XL Center in six days to take on No. 22 USF for the chance to tie their own record of 90 consecutive wins.


Chris Hanna is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at christopher.hanna@uconn.edu. He tweets @realchrishanna