HARTFORD — The No. 1 UConn Huskies women’s basketball team defeated Lubbock Christian University 95-39 in their first exhibition game of the season under the new rule changes on Monday.
The four-quarter affair was predictably dominated by the Huskies as Lubbock Christian, a Division II program, was completely overmatched by the three-time defending champions.
“It was kind of a typical exhibition game,” UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said. “We have a long way to go. You can see how we are just not quite there yet, which is good. I don’t know that you want to be right there yet in your first exhibition game.”
Senior forward Breanna Stewart led all scorers with 25 points on 10-of-12 shooting from the field. She also grabbed six rebounds and had three blocks and three steals in an extremely efficient night.
Nicole Hampton was the leading scorer for Lubbock Christian with 11 points.
The Huskies hit their stride in the first quarter after a string of nice plays by Moriah Jefferson. The lightning-quick senior point guard got the Huskies transition offense going with a fast break layup. She then assisted on a Stewart layup in transition and scored another layup of her own. This was all a part of a 12-2 run that UConn went on to end the first quarter leading 18-5.
“Really dangerous,” Jefferson said when asked about this team’s transition possibilities. “I think we have a lot of versatility on our team. I think getting out in the fast break transition game will really be a big part of us.”
Jefferson finished the game with 15 points, six assists and four steals.
The Huskies extended their lead in the second quarter behind the strong combination of Stewart and sophomore guard Kia Nurse. Nurse had eight-second quarter points on her way to an 18-point scoring night. Stewart added eight points of her own in the quarter, including a three-pointer to beat the buzzer that gave UConn a 43-16 lead at the half.
In the first half, the Huskies held Lubbock Christian to just 17 percent shooting from the field with only five made field goals.
The second half opened up with another UConn run. Jefferson got things going again with a three pointer and she contributed back-to-back layups that forced Lubbock Christian to call a timeout after allowing 14 unanswered points in three minutes.
UConn freshmen Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier each made their college debuts on the night. Samuelson, who started at forward, had eight points and four rebounds in 34 minutes. Collier had five points, seven rebounds and three steals on the night. Although both freshmen struggled to shoot efficiently, Auriemma is not putting too much stock in one exhibition game.
“You really can’t say much about freshmen in their first night out like this,” Auriemma said. “It is probably the most nerve-racking thing they have done in their basketball career.”
Sophomore forward Gabby Williams was a bright spot off the bench for the Huskies as she scored 16 points while also grabbing 12 rebounds.
“Gabby came in and played great,” Auriemma said. “She just is a different player than she was a year ago today. If you think back to a year ago today and watch the way she is playing now, she’s been pretty much like that most of practice. That was really encouraging to see her carry it over into the game.”