After an impressive road win over No. 2 Notre Dame Wednesday night, the UConn women’s basketball remained on the road with a tough matchup against an undefeated Kansas State team. While finals week for most students start Monday, the Huskies matchup with the Wildcats was a test of their own, hoping to avoid a let-down that sometimes follows a big win.
UConn passed the test from the Wildcats with ease, capitalizing on a fast start and an outstanding first half from Katie Lou Samuelson to beat Kansas State 75-58 for the Wildcats’ first loss of the season and the Huskies’ 84th-straight win.
Samuelson was lights out from the start, hitting three 3-pointers and a layup for 11 of her 14 first-quarter points in the opening period as part of a 15-0 run to break a 4-4 tie. Samuelson continued her hot start for the remainder of the first half, adding five more points; she ended the day with a game-high 26 points on 10-21 shooting, including 6-13 from beyond the arc. UConn (9-0) would lead by as much as 21 in the second half after a Samuelson 3-pointer before a 14-7 Wildcats run in the final five minutes cut the Huskies’ lead to 45-31 at halftime.
The Huskies’ 3-point shooting, led by Samuelson, was more prominent in the win over the Wildcats than in their victory over Notre Dame. After shooting nine total attempts against the Irish and making only one of them, UConn was much more deadly from deep, torching a K-State team that primarily played zone by shooting 7-14 in the first half and 8-23 on the day for 34.8 percent.
While Samuelson carried the Huskies through the first half, Napheesa Collier powered UConn through the second. After the Wildcats continued their strong finish to the second quarter and cut the Huskies’ lead to 11 after a 3-pointer from Kaylee Page just over three minutes into the third quarter, Collier scored six straight points as part of a 10-0 run to put UConn up 61-40 and firmly back in control.
Collier scored 13 of her 22 points in final half for UConn and contributed in nearly every aspect of the game, adding eight rebounds, four assists, five blocks and six steals, and scored half of the Huskies’ 10 points in the fourth quarter to close out the win. The sophomore forward has now scored 20 or more points in six of the Huskies’ nine games this season.
Kansas State center Breanna Lewis played integral part in the Wildcats’ third quarter run, scoring six of her 18 points. The 6-foot-5 Lewis had her way with UConn’s smaller frontcourt to finish the day with a team-high 18 points, seven rebounds, four blocks and four steals. Karyla Middlebrook was the only other K-State player in double figures with 11 points on 3-6 shooting.
With senior point guard Saniya Chong not available due to concussion-like symptoms from an injury in the win over Notre Dame, freshman point guard Crystal Dangerfield made her first collegiate start for the Huskies in the win over the Wildcats. Dangerfield played a career-high 37 minutes and scored six points on 3-9 shooting while adding five assists, four rebounds and two steals. Chong’s status for UConn’s next game is uncertain, but the team is off for over a week due to final exams and returns to action Monday, Dec. 19 against No. 12 Ohio State at the XL Center.