Women’s Basketball: Huskies survive defensive slugfest at UCF

Connecticut's Megan Walker, left, and Central Florida's Korneila Wright (2) battle for a loose ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in Orlando, Fla. Connecticut won 55-37. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

The UConn women’s basketball team scored at least 75 points in each of its 22 games coming into Wednesday’s matchup with UCF. The Huskies defeated the Knights by 18 points, but No. 1 UConn was held to a season-low point total in the 55-37 win.

UConn (23-0, 11-0 the American) was off to its usual dominance, outscoring UCF 21-4 in the first quarter and leading 37-12 by halftime. The Huskies were up 53-24 early in the fourth quarter but were outscored 13-2 the rest of the way.

The No. 1 Huskies shot just 28.6 percent (6-21) in the second half. Recently, UConn has been shooting an abnormally high shooting percentage in the third quarter of games, but the UCF defense held the Huskies in check.

UCF also won the turnover battle Wednesday night, forcing UConn into 18 turnovers while only committing 16 of its own. The Knights have Division I’s fifth-best defense, allowing only 53.7 points per game. UConn managed to put up 80 points in last month’s matchup with UCF at Gampel Pavilion, but couldn’t replicate that offensive success this time around.

UConn junior forward Katie Lou Samuelson scored 15 points in the first half, outscoring the Knights (12) by herself. Samuelson leads the Huskies in scoring with 17.3 points per game, but scored just four points in the second half to end with a game-high 19 points.

Redshirt senior guard Zakiya Saunders scored all four of UCF’s points in the first quarter. Saunders led the Knights with 13 points in the game, just below her team-leading average of 14.4 points per game. Sophomore guard Korneila Wright added 12 points. Both Saunders and Wright recorded three steals in the game.

Crystal Dangerfield sat out once again to nurse a shin injury. Replacing Dangerfield in the starting lineup, Azurá Stevens scored 12 points and recorded three blocks. Napheesa Collier added a double-double for the Huskies, scoring 11 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.

Gabby Williams scored just three points in the game, but paced the Huskies with eight assists in the absence of their starting point guard. Kia Nurse shot 0-4 in the game and committed four turnovers.

UConn got just seven points from its bench, led by Megan Walker’s five points in 25 minutes. Outside of Walker, the bench played just 12 minutes in the tightly-contested game.

Next up, the Huskies will welcome Wichita State to the XL Center Saturday as they try to get their offense back on track before a huge matchup with No. 4 Louisville on Monday at Gampel Pavilion.


Josh Buser is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at joshua.buser@uconn.edu.