UConn head coach Geno Auriemma won his 1,000th game of his career against Oklahoma 88-64 one year ago tonight. In a rematch against a young Sooners team, his team came out lethargic, but came up big when they needed it most.
Auriemma said pregame in an interview on Fox Sports 1, that he was concerned whether or not his team would be able to match Oklahoma’s energy level after not playing a game in 11 days. That proved to be a valid concern as the Sooners played pesky defense in the lane and making timely 3-point shots.
When it seemed the Huskies might lose their first regular season game since 2014, senior Napheesa Collier pump faked a shot and drove to the hoop to give UConn a 63-62 lead, which they would not relinquish. It marked their first lead since toward the end of the first quarter when they were up 17-16.
Freshman Taylor Robertson shot lights out all night for the Sooners. Her six 3-pointers were the only ones from Oklahoma, each delivering a blow to UConn. Robertson also pulled in four rebounds in 40 minutes.
The Huskies struggled mightily from downtown. In fact, they failed to knock down a 3-pointer in the first half for the first time all season. Which showed the team that when they do not have their A-game on offense, they can play physically to pull out a win.
“When you don’t play for a long time you get out of game mode, you get out of your normal mindset," Auriemma said in an interview with the Hartford Courant. "… I think I’m more worried about where’s our head at and where are our legs at?”
Sophomore Megan Walker played Wednesday night after missing her previous two games with strep throat, and it showed. The forward scored four points on 2-9 shooting, but she was able to reel in seven rebounds.
Auriemma said the team looked out of sorts in his interview at half-time. Not only did the team fail to knock down a 3 in the first half, but the team was out rebounded 21-19. Collier was able to keep the team in the game with 12 points and nine rebounds. This gave the Huskies a chance to come back in the second half.
Freshman Christyn Williams had a slow first half, like most of the team, but was able to finish with 14 points and six rebounds. She has proved that she can rebound from the guard spot this season by using her hops and athleticism.
Williams, who is from Arkansas, had plenty of family and friends in the audience, but she told the Hartford Courant that there was one thing in particular she was looking forward to.
“I just want a home-cooked meal, that’s all," Williams said. "I really miss my mom’s cooking. Her lasagna is undefeated.”
Williams played against her best friend Madi Williams, a freshman at Oklahoma. The two battled against each other for portions of the contest and Madi scored 12 points with 11 rebounds.
Freshman Olivia Nelson-Ododa struggled in her brief four minutes, scoring zero points and recording zero rebounds while committing two personal fouls.
The Huskies next game will be Saturday Dec. 22 at 3 p.m. against California. The team will certainly try to shake off some rust that they showed Wednesday night after an 11-day layoff.
Michael Logan is the sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.