UConn Women’s Basketball: Huskies set win streak record, when will they lose?

Jan 4, 2017; Hartford, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Kia Nurse (11) returns the ball against East Carolina Pirates guard/forward Fanni Csutoras (13) in the first half at XL Center. UConn defeated East Carolina 90-45. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 4, 2017; Hartford, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Kia Nurse (11) returns the ball against East Carolina Pirates guard/forward Fanni Csutoras (13) in the first half at XL Center. UConn defeated East Carolina 90-45. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The UConn women’s basketball team set the NCAA consecutive win streak record on Saturday.

The UConn women coasted to a 88-48 victory over the SMU Mustangs in Dallas on Saturday afternoon. The victory was the 91st straight for the Huskies (16-0, 4-0 AAC), breaking their own record that they set between 2008-10. The Huskies now have the three-longest winning streaks in women’s college basketball history.

“This team is pretty good at just keeping everything on an even keel,” Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma said following the game. “Even afterward, there’s a feeling of accomplishment, they feel like they’ve done something significant.

Katie Lou Samuelson led the way for the nation’s top-ranked team with 28 points, which is one point shy of her career-high of 29 that she set against Dayton in the fourth game of the season. The sophomore sharpshooter made 11-of-21 shots, including 5-of-12 on three-pointers. It marks her sixth game of 20 or more points.

Napheesa Collier contributed 19, along with a career-high 16 rebounds, while Gabby Williams collected her 14th career double-double with 19 points, 10 rebounds and a game-high six assists.

UConn controlled the game from the opening tip. The Huskies scored the game’s first 21 points of the game as they held the Mustangs scoreless for nearly the first eight minutes. The Huskies held the Mustangs to 1-of-17 shooting and a season-low two points in the opening stanza.

Samuelson had 10 points in the first quarter and Collier tallied nine points as well as grabbed seven rebounds.

Alicia Froling, who made SMU’s lone first quarter bucket, did her best to keep the Mustangs (10-7, 1-3) in the game in the first half.  Froling tallied eight of the team’s first nine points and finished the half with 10.

SMU cut UConn’s lead to 33-18 with 2:27 left in the period, but Samuelson scored nine of the final 11 points in the period to increase the lead to 44-18. Samuelson and Collier combined for 33 first half points.

The Huskies kept up the intensity in the third quarter, extending their lead to 69-34. They pushed the lead to a game-high 47 on a jumper by Natalie Butler with 3:12 left to go. SMU ended the game on a 8-1 spurt.

Froling was the lone Mustang in double-figures,16 points and 12 rebounds, to record her 11th double-double of the season and 30th of her career. She also had five blocks, increasing her total to 122 for her career — third all-time in the school’s history.

UConn out-shot SMU 46.6 percent-to-25 percent from the floor. The Huskies had nine three-pointers and the Mustangs sank six from beyond the arc, five coming in the second half.

SMU-UConn News and Notes

What are some interesting nuggets from this game? We’ll give you nine!

  • UConn swatted away a season-high 14 shots against SMU. Napheesa Collier tied her career-high with six blocks.
  • 25 of the Huskies’ 34 field goals were assisted upon.
  • Gabby Williams has now matched her career-high in points five times.
  • Seniors Tierney Lawlor and Saniya Chong, along with Kia Nurse and Williams, are the only players that have been with the program throughout the win streak.
  • Lawlor entered the score book for the first time all season when she made the second of two free throws with 42 seconds left in the game. The former walk-on now has 56 points in 106 career games.
  • SMU went into the game with the league’s best field goal defense (35.6 percent) while allowing 58 points a game, third among the 11 American Athletic Conference teams.
  • SMU is 0-7 all-time against UConn.
  • Nurse, along with Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson, were named the Wooden Award Midseason Top-25 list earlier this week.
  • With a win against Tulsa, the Huskies will match UNC women’s soccer team record of 92 straight wins (1990-94).

When will the Huskies lose?

UConn is one of two remaining undefeated teams in Division I, with No. 4 Mississippi State (18-0) being the other.

The Huskies, who haven’t lost since Nov. 17, 2014, weren’t expected to be in this position as coach Geno Auriemma stacked the schedule against them. And it hasn’t been easy for the young, yet extremely talented Huskies.

UConn opened the season by eking out a 78-76 victory at No. 12 Florida State. The Huskies also had tough battles against Baylor, Maryland and Notre Dame. The Huskies are 8-0 against ranked teams this year.

UConn has three of the best players in the country in Katie Lou Samuelson, Napheesa Collier and Gabby Williams. The Huskies can score inside and from the perimeter. They can score in transition too — the Huskies outscored SMU 30-6 in fast break points. They also defend well, giving up the 16th fewest points in the nation at 55.0 points a game. UConn has held its last four opponents under 50 points.

UConn has 13 games remaining, starting with Tuesday’s contest in Tulsa. The Huskies toughest game is expected to be when when No. 5 South Carolina (14-1) visits Storrs on February 13. The Gamecocks have a top-15 ranked offense and defense. USC has four terrific players in 6’5″ A’ja Wilson and 6’4″ Alaina Coates, as well as guards Kaela Davis and Allisha Gray.

If the Huskies get by South Carolina, it is conceivable that they will enter the NCAA Tournament with a spotless record. The Huskies are 67-0 against American Athletic Conference teams, which includes nine straight conference tournament wins, since joining the league four years ago.

“What a good team, what a very, very good team,” first-year SMU coach Travis Mays said. ”I hear people say at the beginning of the year, UConn was supposed to have a down year. That’s not a down year. That’s a program that has championship pedigree, and the culture is there. You go there, they just plug you in and they keep on winning.”

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