The No. 1 UConn Huskies advanced to the American Athletic Conference Tournament finals with an 82-35 win over Tulane.
The Huskies will make their third straight appearance in the conference finals on Monday. They look to win their third straight tournament championship in the American and their 21st overall tournament championship.
Katie Lou Samuelson led all scorers with 17 points, making six out of seven field goals in 25 minutes.
Courtnie Latham led all scorers for Tulane with 11 points.
UConn beat Tulane for the second time in eight days, but the Huskies got off to a much better start compared to their last meeting, an 80-40 win on UConn’s Senior Day.
“We talked about the start we had against them last time and it was not what we wanted,” Morgan Tuck said. “We wanted to make sure we did the opposite today.”
Tuck certainly did her part in UConn’s strong start to the game. Tuck finished with 15 points on five-for-seven shooting from the field. She also grabbed five rebounds and had two assists.
The Huskies wasted no time taking control of the game in the first quarter. UConn opened the game on a 14-0 run as Tulane missed their first seven shot attempts. Kia Nurse led the way on the run scoring seven of her 12 points in the early going.
That classic UConn run came very early in this game, as the Huskies were stellar on both the offensive and defensive ends. UConn was taking advantage of both stops and turnovers all game. The Huskies scored 24 points off of Tulane’s 18 turnovers in the game.
UConn led 28-5 at the end of the first quarter. The Huskies went 11-for-15 from the field while Tulane was just 2-for-12 from the field. Nurse and Stewart each had seven points in the opening quarter.
The second quarter was more of the same as the UConn offense continued to build their lead while Tulane struggled from the field.
In the first half UConn shot 66 percent from the field while holding Tulane to just 24 percent shooting. Samuelson led all scorers at the half with 12 points.
When the team is clicking on both the offensive and defensive ends, it is even fun for even head coach Geno Auriemma.
“When I watch us play like that I keep getting flashbacks to how many great players and how many great teams we’ve had and how many times I’ve seen that in the past,” Auriemma said. “It’s just very demoralizing for the other team because it’s not even about them anymore. It is not anything against the team we are playing — it could have been anybody today and when we do that it’s just really hard to play against us.”
UConn shot 55 percent from the field on the day while holding Tulane to just 30 percent. Tulane did not reach double-digit points in a quarter until the fourth quarter when the game was already out of reach.
The blowout victory also allowed UConn to rest their starters heading into the championship game. No starter for the Huskies played more than 25 minutes. Having the ability to rest however may not be the most important factor according to Auriemma.
“I think we make a big deal over how many minutes you play,” Auriemma said. “I bet you emotionally it is more taxing than it would be physically. The fact that we can rest some guys is great, but I like that they are in the flow and that’s more important.”
Spencer Mayfield is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.