No. 2 UConn beats Mississippi 90-50 in Paradise Jam

ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands (AP) — Geno Auriemma doesn’t worry too much about No. 2 UConn putting the ball in the basket.

Instead, Auriemma is more concerned about the Huskies keeping the other team from scoring.

That’s something UConn has been able to do quite well so far this season, including in Thursday’s 90-50 victory over Mississippi at the Paradise Jam tournament.

Katie Lou Samuelson scored a season-high 22 points to help Huskies (3-0) extend their regular-season winning streak to 118 games.

However, UConn was able to hold the Rebels (3-2) to 28.6 percent shooting in the first half (4 of 14) and 32.3 percent for the game (20 of 62). In three games, the team has held opponents to 28.9 percent shooting.

The Huskies also forced Mississippi into 10 turnovers, and finished with a 44-30 rebounding advantage.

“For three quarters, before we subbed, we gave them the exact shots we wanted them to take,” Auriemma said.

“Everything that we do that’s really good starts on the defensive end. When we’re playing well defensively, when we’re rebounding the ball well, our offense, I never worry about that.”

Napheesa Collier added a season-best 18 points and had 10 rebounds, Christyn Williams had 13 points, Megan Walker 12, Olivia Nelson-Ododa 11 and Crystal Dangerfield 10 for UConn in its biggest margin of victory this season.

“I thought we played real well as a team,” Collier said after her second straight double-double. “We just had to play really smart. I got two fouls early, so that’s what we definitely want to avoid. So when they’re playing physical, we want to make sure we’re physical right back, but we’re being smart about it.”

Shannon Dozier and Crystal Allen finished with 11 points each for the Rebels, who only led once. That came in the opening minutes on Allen’s 3-pointer at the 7:56 mark for a 3-2 lead.

However, the Huskies quickly took control of Thursday’s game behind Collier and Samuelson, who had 13 points apiece in the first half.

That allowed UConn to lead by as many as 26 points over the half, and pull ahead 42-17 at the halftime break.

The Huskies pushed their lead to as many as 46 points in the second half, going up 80-34 on Walker’s 3-pointer with 6:38 remaining in the fourth quarter.

“As far as I’m concerned, they’re on their own journey, and we’re on our own journey,” Mississippi head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin said. “We can’t compare ourselves to them. We’re not trying to win a national championship; we’re just trying to win games in this tournament. In order for us to do that, we’ve got to come out and compete for 40 minutes. I felt like we competed for 40 minutes.”

BIG PICTURE

UConn: The regular-season winning streak dates to the second game of the 2014-2015 season, an overtime loss to Stanford.

Mississippi: The Rebels have lost 11 straight to Top 10 teams since the 2015-2016 season, when they downed then-No. 9 Kentucky 73-65.

STATS OF THE DAY

The Huskies have won their first three games by 32, 38 and 40 points, a margin of victory average of 36.7 points per game.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Another big win shouldn’t do anything but help UConn stay close with defending NCAA champion Notre Dame in the AP Top 25 voting – especially with a game between No. 1 and No. 2 coming up in South Bend, Ind., on Dec. 2.

UP NEXT

UConn: Face St. John’s on Friday.

Mississippi: The Rebels face Purdue on Friday.