Coming into the game sophomore Napheesa Collier led the nation in field goal percentage shooting at 67.5 percent, as she only improved on that mark shooting 10-10 from the field for 24 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and five blocks in the UConn Huskies (23-0, 11-0 the American) 96-49 win over the Cincinnati Bearcats (14-9, 5-5 the American). She is the first Huskies player to shoot 10-10 from the field since Breanna Stewart achieved this feat against Creighton in 2014, as Rebecca Lobo has the UConn record starting a game 11-11.
The Huskies dominated this game from start to finish as they had an 18-0 run to close out the first quarter, an 8-0 run to close out the second and a 10-0 run to close out the third quarter. The Bearcats were held scoreless for the final 5:33 minutes of the first, 3:45 of second, 2:22 of third and 2:02 of the fourth quarter, as they were undersized and outmanned against the No.1 ranked Huskies.
Collier opened up the scoring in the game with a layup but the Bearcats stuck around early as they were able to stay competitive until it became 13-7. Following a three pointer by Bianca Quisenberry, the Huskies closed the quarter on a dominant 18-0 run to take a life out of a decisively pro-UConn crowd. On average, the Bearcats play in front of 623 fans, but today’s attendance was around 1,029 supporters, with a majority seemingly rooting for the visiting team.
The Bearcats finished the quarter 0-9 from the field, as the Huskies finished seven for eight, including each UConn starter making one or more field goals during the run.
The second quarter was an extension of the first quarter for both teams as the Huskies kept scoring and the Bearcats kept missing from the field. Midway through the second the Bearcats were able to go on a mini 7-0 run with Collier being on the bench, but then proceeded to go 0-4 from the field as Collier and the Huskies closed the half on an 8-0 run. At halftime, junior Kia Nurse, sophomore Katie Lou Samuelson and Collier were all in double figures as the team shot 50 percent from the field and led 49-22.
At the intermission Collier was 7-7 from the field and had eight rebounds, five assists and five blocks. For Cincinnati, Shanice Johnson had 11 points and five rebounds, as she finished with a respectable 20 points and nine rebounds in 33 minutes of play.
Once again, Collier hit a field goal to start the quarter as the teams traded baskets before Nurse went on a personal 6-0 run behind two three pointers. The Huskies started the third quarter 4-5 from the field as the Bearcats started 2-6. With a little less than six minutes to go Collier grabbed her 10th board, which marked her eighth double-double of the season.
UConn finished the third quarter seven for nine from the field as they went on a 10-0 run. Junior Gabby Williams had a superb third quarter, as she finished the first three quarters with 14 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and two steals.
In the fourth quarter the only starter to play was senior Saniya Chong as her and redshirt junior Natalie Butler had 11 of the Huskies 13 points in the quarter. UConn finished the game shooting 51.4 percent from the field and assisted on 31 of their 38 baskets as their lone dark spot was from behind the arc as they shot 9-32 from deep.
In her three quarters of play Samuelson finished with a quiet 20 points and five assists on 8-18 shooting from the field and 3-11 from behind the arc. This is her and Collier’s 12th time eclipsing the 20 point mark. Both she and Collier posted a 53 plus/minus ratio during the game. Nurse finished with an even quieter 17 points, five assists and four rebounds, as she was one of five UConn players with five or more assists on the day.
With this victory UConn has now won 36 consecutive road games, breaking a tie with the 1924-1928 Kansas men for the longest streak in Division-I basketball history. Also, with the win, head coach Geno Auriemma passed current Rutgers head coach C. Vivian Stringer for his 978 win, as he is now fourth all time. He is now nine wins behind current UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell for third all time.
The Huskies will return to the court this Saturday as they will host SMU at Gampel Pavilion with tip-off slated for 2p.m.
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.