Collier’s double-double leads No. 2 UConn to rout of Towson
STORRS, Conn. (AP) — UConn wanted to make a statement after failing to get a No. 1 seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Napheesa Collier scored 23 points and UConn, in the unusual position of being a No. 2 seed, got off to its usual NCAA tournament start with a 110-61 rout of 15th-seeded Towson on Friday night.
Collier added 14 rebounds in putting up her fourth straight double-double and 21st this season.
Freshman Christyn Williams scored 21 points and Crystal Dangerfield added 20 for Connecticut (32-2), which had five players in double figures and scored more than 100 points for the fourth time this season.
“We wanted to come out with a bang and I thought we came out swinging, which is what we wanted to do,” Collier said.
Kionna Jeter had 20 points for Towson, which was making its first trip to the NCAA Tournament and finishes the season 20-13.
UConn, in its 31st consecutive tournament appearance, put this one away early. Megan Walker (16 points) began the scoring with a jumper and her 3-pointer from the right baseline capped an opening 11-1 run.
It was 31-7 after a three-point play from Collier to close the first quarter. She had 12 points and six rebounds after 10 minutes and 18 points and nine rebounds by halftime.
A 3-pointer from Dangerfield gave the Huskies their first 30-point lead at 46-14. The team, which led 64-24 at the half, hit 59 percent of its shots and 15 3-pointers.
“It’s simplistic right? Your really good players have to play really well and if they do then you have a chance to win and play again,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “Our best players played really well today. And when they do, we’re a hard team to contend with.”
Connecticut has won 26 straight first-round games by an average of almost 50 points since a loss to Louisville in 1993. The top-seeded Cardinals and the Huskies have chance of meeting this season in the Albany Region final.
Towson: The Tigers posted their first 20-win season since 2007-08, first winning season since 2011-12 and their first Colonial Athletic Association championship.
“We’re going to take it into next year, working hard, trying to get back where we came,” Jeter said.
UConn: All-American Katie Lou Samuelson, playing for the first time since suffering a back injury in the penultimate game of the regular season, got her first points on a 3-pointer from the top of the key that made it 36-12. She played 22 minutes and finished with 11 points.
“I’m definitely tired but it’s easy to push through,” Samuelson said. “I’m glad I played today and got that first game back.”
Williams hit eight of her 12 shots in her first NCAA Tournament game and was 4 of 8 from 3-point range. The freshman also had four assists. three rebounds and said she never felt nervous.
“It’s just crazy, because last year at this time I was at home watching all the games on TV,” she said. “So, to actually be here, I was really excited to play here.”
HE SAID IT
Auriemma said he’s had teams he knew would not be beaten if they played at the top of their game. This team, he said, is not one of those.
“The difference in this year is that we know, even if we play our best game, we can lose,” he said. “We just don’t have enough pieces. Which is OK. Because then the goal becomes, let’s see how close we can come to playing a great game and then take our chances, because the other team still has to play great, and there is no guarantee of that.”
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