The game was close for the first 84 seconds; as UConn proceeded to score 37 points in the first quarter to blow open the game. The No. 2 ranked Huskies defeated the No. 15 DePaul Blue Demons by a score of 91-46, behind junior Kia Nurse’s career high 33 points, for their 81st straight win and their sixth to start the season.
“Today we stayed disciplined, we had a goal and we stuck with it,” junior guard Gabby Williams said.
Holding the Blue Demons to six points, six different Huskies scored in the opening quarter, to put the game out of reach early. With 2-14 shooting, including 1-7 from behind the arc, coupled with 12 turnovers, DePaul’s poor shooting took them out of the game from the onset. The UConn length and athleticism proved to be too much as their first 14 points came on fast breaks and from within three feet of the basket.
In the first quarter, Williams broke her career high in assists with five and Nurse finished 7-7 from the field with 19 points. Nurse was not the only one who got off to a blazing start as the whole team went 15-19 in the first quarter and hit five threes. Even though 37 points is very impressive, UConn was able to record 13 assists in the first 10 minutes as their ability to move the ball and find wide open shots allowed them to shoot a blistering 78.9 percent.
DePaul did not record their first basket until the 4:07 mark of the first quarter, as the Preseason Big East Player of the Year, senior Jessica January, was able to hit a jumper. January was unable to find her rhythm in the game as she finished with six points on 3-16 shooting, including 0-7 from behind the arc.
“That whole first quarter we got something from everybody,” Williams said. “We were feeding off each other’s energy, the bench was feeding off us, we were feeding off of the bench and feeding off of the coaches, that is what we kind of need the whole season.”
The Huskies came back to Earth in the second quarter, as they scored 16 points on 42.9 percent shooting. Nurse hit two more shots before missing at the buzzer, finishing the first half with 24 points. At the end of the first half, UConn led 53-19 as sophomore Katie Lou Samuelson had a quiet 12 points, five rebounds and five assists on 4-6 shooting from three.
“We played with a little more of a purpose defensively and that got us off and running,” head coach Geno Auriemma added following the game. “We created a lot of easy shots for ourselves because of our defense; it was a real big turnaround from Tuesday night in terms of our defensive intensity.”
In the second half, UConn outscored DePaul 38 to 27 as the Huskies shot an impressive 61.8 percent in the third, but were held to three field goals and 11 points in the fourth. At the end of the third Nurse outscored the Blue Demons by herself 33 to 30. With the game decided, the UConn starters did not play very much in the fourth as Williams finished with two points, but a game-high 10 assists, and seven rebounds as she was a catalyst for UConn’s transition offense throughout the game.
“We got anything we wanted in transition,” Samuelson concluded. “Having that confidence our defense could transition like that is going to make us even better going ahead.” She would finish the game with 16 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in 26 minutes of play.
As a team, UConn scored 32 points off of turnovers and 26 fast break points, as the Blue Demons had only four points in fast break opportunities. DePaul’s leading scorer was Kelly Campbell who finished with 10 points, their lone double digit scorer. With this win, UConn is now 14-1 all-time against DePaul, 233-61 against AP top 25 and 273-7 at Gampel since 1993-94.
“We played 20 minutes of really exceptional basketball, the first quarter and the third quarter,” Auriemma said. “The trick now is for us to show up Sunday and play something more than 20 minutes of really good basketball. It was a start.”
The Huskies will play No. 14 Texas this Sunday at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville. The Longhorns are 2-3 on the season as they are led by Brooke McCarty who averages 16.3 points per game.
“They [Texas] are so much bigger than DePaul and so much more athletic, their style of play is so much different than what DePaul does,” Auriemma said. “It is going to be a much different challenge.”
The game will tip-off at 4 p.m. on Sunday, as UConn will seek to win their 82nd game in a row and their 129th out of the last 130.
Matt Kren is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.