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Huskies shoot way past Tulane

POSTED January 27, 2018
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson

            STORRS – UConn’s brilliance doesn’t often include drama but it is frequently beautiful.  And this, well, this was a beautiful thing.

            This was Saturday’s noon-time matinee at Gampel Pavilion against Tulane in front of the program’s 200th sellout of 10,167. So try this on.

            UConn shot 72.2 percent (39-for-54), including a ridiculous 93 percent in the third quarter (13-14).

            UConn had more assists (28) than rebounds (27).

            UConn shot 55 percent from the three-point arc (11-for-20).

            UConn put six players in double figures and 10 out of 12 players scored.

            UConn scored its 30th point of the game slightly more than a minute into the second quarter. Tulane scored its 30th point with 8:24 to go in the game.

            UConn’s defense helped create 27 turnovers.

            Oh by the way, just for the record, UConn 98, Tulane 45. The Huskies are a perfect 20-0, the 29th 20-win season in program history. My guess is that even Tulane in its own privacy had to admire the beast that provided the whupping.

            Katie Lou Samuelsson led the Huskies’ scoring parade with 19 points while Kia Nurse tossed in 14 and Gabby Williams, Nepheesa Collier and Megan Walker added 13 points each. Azura Stevens contributed 12 points.

            For all the nicks, bumps and bruises and concern over the lack of bench contributions, the Huskies looked like a team in peak form as the regular season with 10 games left begins to head into the stretch run and with defending national champion and No. 9 South Carolina looming on the road Thursday night.

            “I like how we’re playing. I like how we’re progressing every day,” said Williams. “I see a difference every day in practice. I see guys getting better in practice and that’s what I like.   ‘We don’t have any more days to waste but also we still have to take it one day at a time. Ten games, we can’t play them all at once. We’re just checking off the next thing and breaking it down.”

            Williams, nursing a sore hip, displayed her own individual brilliance, adding nine assists and seven rebounds to her 13 points in just 20 minutes of action.

            “When she graduates we are really going to miss everything she does for us and she does it at both ends of the floor,” said UConn coach Geno Auriemma. When she’s passing the ball the way she was passing it today it just makes everybody on the team that much more dangerous. Her activity level was really, really high today. I love watching Gabby play because of how many different things Gabby is capable of doing for us.”

            The Huskies wasted little time in laying waste to the Green Wave. A run of 15 unanswered points during a span of a little over four minutes in the first quarter resulted in a 26-5 advantage.

            Samuelson started the barrage with a 3-pointer and layup and Crystal Dangerfield and  Collier added bombs from beyond the arc to bewilder Tulane. Williams added a part of layups. It was 29-11 by the end of the quarter and time to just keep enjoying the show and not worry about the ending.

            It didn’t help Tulane that the Huskies defense suffocated the life out of their offense. The Green Wave’s leading scorer Kolby Morgan came into the game averaging. 21.2 points and left the game with two points on 1-of-10 shooting thanks stifling coverage from a collection of UConn defenders led by Kia Nurse.

            “We really did do a great job on (Morgan) today,” said Auriemma  “We forced her to places where she is not comfortable getting her shots. Both Kia and Gabby and for that matter anybody that we switched off on her -  I thought we had the game plan and we followed it to at tee.”

            Williams missed the lone shot in an awesome display from the floor in the third quarter that had Tulane wondering if someone had shrunk the ball or widened the hoop. The ballooned to 84-28 by the end of the period. It is the third game in a row the Huskies have made the third period a special time.

            “I haven’t been spending a lot of time in the locker room at half so maybe that’s what it is,” said Auriemma. “I just think we’re in a pretty good flow right now on the offensive end. We’re moving especially well without the ball. With Lou, Nepheesa and Kia making shots I don’t believe it myself when I look at the team that we can be that good of a shooting team but we are We go through stretches and that is in the third quarter now. We make everything.”

            “We’ve been shooting well in practice and I think today was just a good game,” said Samuelson. “It’s always great to have that kind of crowd in your own gym and I don’t think anybody took a bad shot today. We’re getting people in the right spot and right position and can kind of be anyone of us that can step up and hit the shot.”

            And so it was. Ask Tulane.    

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