Women's Basketball: Huskies shoot 72 percent in second half to overcome slow start

The UConn women's basketball defeats the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes 96-50 at Gampel Pavilion on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. Napheesa Collier lead the huskies with 24 points. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

At the start of the game, the No. 1 ranked Huskies (22-0, 10-0 the American) looked a little sluggish, scoring only 16 points in the opening quarter. They were able to find their rhythm, however, and proceeded to shoot a blistering 72.7 percent from the field in the second half to defeat the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes by a score of 96-50. As a team, UConn shot 76.5 percent in a 29-point third quarter and 68.8 percent in a 27 point fourth quarter blowing out Tulsa for their 97th straight victory. Sophomore Napheesa Collier led the way for UConn, scoring 24 points and grabbing nine rebounds on 10-13 shooting in 31 minutes of action.

Despite starting the first quarter up 6-0 and 8-2, the Huskies were not connecting on early shots, as sophomore Katie Lou Samuelson was 2-10 in the quarter and the team was 1-8 from behind the arc. The Golden Hurricanes trailed by only five after the end of the first 10 minutes, even with six early turnovers and a 38.5 shooting percentage.

“I think we came out a little slow today so maybe we weren’t as focused as we needed to be but coach always stressed how we have to treat every game the same,” Collier noted, before she went on to say, “so we tried in the second half to come out with a little more energy.”

At the end of the first quarter, every UConn starter had scored. Senior Saniya Chong had five points, four rebounds and two assists, as she played a very solid game finishing with 17 points total, seven assists, seven rebounds and zero turnovers.

The Huskies picked it up in the second quarter shooting 53.3 percent from the field, but once again struggled from behind the arc, going 1-5 in the quarter and 2-13 in the half. Collier turned it on for the slow-moving Huskies scoring 13 points in the second quarter, as she finished with 17 points and eight rebounds in the first half.

“Napheesa does a great job of putting herself in a position where she can be successful,” junior Kia Nurse said. “For us, anytime she has someone on her back it is easy to put the ball in there and she will make something happen.”

At the end of the first half, UConn led 40-23, as the team was able separate themselves from Tulsa but not put them completely away. For the Golden Hurricanes, freshman guard Shug Dickson had eight points in the first half, as did fellow freshman Kendrian Elliot who was 4-4 from the field.

On both sides of the ball the Huskies dominated in the third quarter as they held the Golden Hurricanes to 11 points, while pouring in 29 points. In the third, the Huskies shot 13-17, as Samuelson had 10 in the quarter while junior Gabby Williams contributed nine points, three rebounds and four rebounds in the third as well.

“I don’t know if I would trade any of the shots we took in the first half, there may have been a couple that were eh, but most of them were the same shots we have been taking all year and they just didn’t go in,” Head Coach Geno Auriemma commented. “It’s funny how they all started dropping in the second half. That’s what happens.”

At the end of the 30 minutes of play, the Huskies led 69-34 as they outscored Tulsa 20-2 in the paint in the third and finished the quarter on an 8-0 and extended 19-4 run. It was a resurgent quarter as the Huskies had eight assists and only one turnover while forcing seven turnovers.

The hot shooting continued in the fourth as the Huskies were able to connect on five of their eight threes in the quarter. In the fourth, Chong and Collier were both 3-3 from the field as both were able to lead the Huskies to another 10-0 run.

Also playing well in the fourth quarter was freshman guard Crystal Dangerfield, who was 2-2 from behind the arc in quarter, as she finished with six points and six assists in 27 minutes.

“She played really well today,” Auriemma said about Dangerfield before going on to say, “She made some great plays today, she was involved, and she impacted the game. She is capable of doing a lot of things, and you saw that today.”

For the Huskies, Samuelson and Nurse both had 16 points while Williams had 10 points, six rebounds, six assists, six steals and two blocks in only 17 minutes of play. For the Golden Hurricanes, Dickson led the team with 12 points, while their leading scorer junior Erika Wakefield was held to two points on 1-7 shooting from the field.

UConn will return to action this Tuesday at 7 p.m. as the will travel to Ohio to square off against the Cincinnati Bearcats.


Matt Kren is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball. He can be reached via email at matthew.kren@uconn.edu.