Women's Basketball: Huskies’ bench shows what they have to offer in another conference domination

Kia Nurse (pictured) pushes against Temple in Sunday's contest (Olivia Stenger/The Daily Campus)

HARTFORD – Stop me if you heard this before: The UConn women’s basketball team has never lost to an American Athletic Conference opponent.

Stop me again if you’ve heard this one too: UConn has dominated another conference opponent by 50 or more points.

Well, the No. 1 Huskies (26-0, 13-0 the American) sure demonstrated that they know how to win Sunday afternoon at the XL Center, taking down the Temple Owls 106-45, marking the 83rd consecutive regular season win against an American Athletic Conference opponent since joining the fledgling conference before the 2013-14 season.

The Owls (10-16, 2-11 the American) were simply no match for the superior Huskies, who won by 50 points or more for the seventh time in conference play this season.

Same old song and dance for the UConn Huskies.

Batouly and the bench show they can play

The likes of Katie Lou Samuelson and Kia Nurse put the game to bed early Sunday with 27 and 16 points, respectively. This gave UConn head coach Geno Auriemma an extended look at his bench, which would be given another opportunity to shine late in the game.

“We’re always trying to see where else can we make some improvements,” Auriemma said. “I think we know what we have in our starting five.”

While the Huskies’ reserves have had plenty of such opportunities in the fourth quarter this season and have often disappointed their legendary head coach, they put in what was likely their best performance of the year Sunday afternoon against Temple.

The reserves played some solid basketball in the last 15 minutes or so against Temple. The bench combined for 39 points, tied for a season-high, on 16-30 shooting in the late stages of the game.

“It’s good because the kids come to practice every day, they work really, really hard and we want them to have some confidence and have some fun playing the game,” Auriemma said. “They looked like they were having some fun at the end of the game.”

Azurá Stevens, normally subject to much of Auriemma’s constructive criticism, had herself a solid game on both sides of the ball. Stevens finished with 11 points, eight rebounds and three assists in 15 minutes. Although she got herself in a bit of foul trouble with four offences on the afternoon, Stevens played respectable defense and harassed any Owls that tried to score on her in the paint.

Azura Stevens (pictured) and the Huskies picked up another conference win over the weekend (Olivia Stenger/The Daily Campus)

“I thought this was one of [Stevens’] better games, you know she got a lot of things accomplished today,” Auriemma said. “The same thing with that second group. This was one of the few times where we really, really played well as a unit, that second group.”

Batouly Camara, who was plagued by injury to start her first year of eligibility with UConn and struggled to get up to full speed, made an impressive impact in just 11 minutes on the court. The Kentucky transfer was full of energy and played with a focus on finishing strong. Camara ended with eight points, three rebounds and three assists, getting herself to the free throw line on three occasions.

“[Camara] hasn’t had the chance to play,” Auriemma said. “Today, she kinda felt good. She looked good, she felt good and she was moving a lot better. It’s unusual to have somebody sit out a year and then miss a lot of time in practice because of an injury ‘cause it just takes forever to get into the swing of things but…I was happy that [she had success].”

Next up, the Huskies head to New Orleans where they will take on the Tulane Green Wave Wednesday night, as they look to remain undefeated.

Chris Hanna is the associate sports editor  for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball. He can be reached via email at christopher.hanna@uconn.edu. He tweets @realchrishanna.