The No. 1-ranked UConn women’s basketball team defeated Vanguard 98-18 in an exhibition game played under experimental rules at Gampel Pavilion on Sunday.
The game was played with a men’s sized basketball, a 24-second shot clock and a 3-point line that was at the international distance of 22 feet, 1 inch.
In such a lopsided victory it was hard to exactly pinpoint what changes worked and what didn’t, especially with a one-game sample size. UConn head coach Geno Auriemma does not expect to see immediate changes implemented as a result of this game.
“We will see,” Auriemma said. “Things don’t change very quickly in college sports. Coaches are pretty set in how they view things.”
But Auriemma did notice that one of the changes, the 24-second shot clock, did have an impact on how the game was played.
“The only effect that I saw is that you can move the ball up and down the floor a little bit quicker and you have to move the ball quicker,” Auriemma said.
A game played at a faster pace was certainly an advantage to the Huskies who scored 22 fast break points and 48 points off of turnovers. The offenses ability to push the pace started with senior point guard Moriah Jefferson. Jefferson, who finished the game with 20 points, 4 assists and 6 steals, also noted the impact the shortened shot clock had on the game.
“I think it got the pace up a little bit,” Jefferson said. “We had to think faster obviously because we had to get into our plays quicker. Sometimes you saw we didn’t start our plays until like 12 seconds [left on the shot clock]. We had to make sure we are getting our offense started faster.”
Although it is hard to make a definitive takeaway on the success of the experimental rules on just one game, it was hard to ignore the struggles both teams had from three-point range with the different sized basketball.
UConn shot an uncharacteristic 1-for-11 from three-point range in the first half and finished the game 7-for-24 from behind the arc. The Huskies adapted and found other ways to score however as 56 of their points came in the paint while still shooting 53 percent from the field.
Vanguard’s offensive struggles could not only be attested to the rules however as the UConn defense was completely overwhelming from a talent standpoint. Vanguard made just one three point field goal on 15 attempts in the game while they were also held to 12 percent shooting from the field.
“The way we are playing defensively, we are getting better,” UConn senior forward Breanna Stewart said. “That’s one thing that coach has talked about each day in practice and each week is that we should be better than we were the week before. I think that once we get in a fluid motion where everyone is on the same page it is a lot easier.”