Women’s Basketball: Huskies defense makes SMU crumble


UConn’s Napheesa Collier helped set high paced tempo against SMU Wednesday night in Gampel Pavilion (Nicholas Hampton/The Daily Campus)

With students back from winter break, Gampel Pavilion was rocking Wednesday night when the UConn women’s basketball team defeated SMU 79-35.

Before the game, Katie Lou Samuelson was presented with a commemorative basketball for scoring 2,000 points as a player at UConn. Samuelson is the 10th UConn player to reach the milestone.

“Two thousand points is a lot of points. You know, we’ve had a couple players do that in the past,” head coach Geno Auriemma said. “You got to be pretty consistent and you got to do it for the whole four years. It helps when you make a bunch of three’s like she has in her career.”

The Huskies dominated the first quarter against SMU defensively, causing eight turnovers and limiting the Mustangs to 10 points. Senior Napheesa Collier set the tempo for UConn, scoring nine points and grabbing five rebounds.

“We’re trying to get ourselves some easy buckets, you know and trying to get the game going a little quicker, create as many possessions as we can,” Auriemma said. “I thought it worked out pretty well.”

The second quarter was much of the same for the Huskies. The Mustangs struggled to gain any momentum due to UConn’s full court press that usually resulted in an SMU turnover. It did not help the Mustangs that any easy buckets they could have scored were missed.

The Mustangs are known for their rebounding prowess, but it wasn’t enough to slow down UConn. SMU, the leading shot blocking team in the league, only produced three blocks in the game, while the Huskies blocked 10 shots.

By the half, the Huskies were up 46-16 and had caused 16 SMU turnovers.

“This was our best game so far defensively,” freshman Christyn Williams said. “We got a lot of steals, a lot of deflections, a lot of stops and that’s really what we’ve been working on in practice so we executed pretty well.”

In the second half, the Huskies kept up with their pace from the first, when Megan Walker scored a trey less than 30 seconds in.

The lead kept ballooning and it was clear UConn was on a roll with any doubt and uncertainty that may have plagued them in earlier games not to be found.

“I think we really came out and we pressed a little differently than we have all year and it showed in the way we kind of got out in transition,” Samuelson said.

UConn dropped back down to third in the AP Top 25 poll this week with Baylor claiming the number two spot.

Next up, the Huskies will play conference foe UCF at 4 p.m. on Sunday at the XL Center in Hartford.

Mariana Dominguez is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at mariana.dominguez@uconn.edu.

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