No. 2 UConn tunes up for Irish by routing No. 16 DePaul
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — No. 2 UConn had some business to take care of before heading to Indiana and Sunday’s showdown with No. 1 Notre Dame.
Napheesa Collier scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Connecticut passed its first test of the season against a ranked opponent by routing No. 16 DePaul 99-63 on Wednesday night.
Katie Lou Samuelson added 23 points for the Huskies (6-0), who shot almost 61 percent from the floor.
“Part of playing on Sunday was playing today and playing as well as we could to prepare ourselves,” said Samuelson. “We really focused on this game.”
Any questions about whether UConn would overlook the Blue Demons were answered in the opening 10 minutes.
The Huskies scored the final 16 points of the first quarter to stretch a 16-15 lead to 32-15. They extended that run to 24-0 led by Samuelson, who hit her first four 3-point shots and finished 5 of 6 from behind the arc.
A fast-break layup from Crystal Dangerfield gave the Huskies their first 30-point lead at 52-22 and UConn went into halftime up 54-25.
“We were just trying to get them to be a little bit rushed and take them a little bit out of their normal rhythm,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “I thought we did that. And, we shot the ball exceptionally well.”
Freshman Christyn Williams scored 15 points, Megan Walker had 13 and Dangerfield chipped in with 12 points and seven assists for the Huskies, who made 10 of 19 shots from behind the arc.
Ashton Millender had 15 points for DePaul (4-3), whose losses have all come against top-25 teams. The Blue Demons made a run to open the second half, cutting UConn’s lead to 17 points, but never really threatened the Huskies.
DePaul has now lost 16 straight to Connecticut since their lone win in the series back in 1983.
“I don’t know what I can do to get my players just to be more consistently competitive against this group at UConn,” said coach Doug Bruno. “We don’t play competitive basketball possession by possession and that’s what bothers me.”
DePaul: The Blue Demons, who came in averaging 86 points a game, shot just 33 percent from the floor and were 12 of 44 from 3-point range, including just 5 of 27 in the first half, when the game was decided.
UConn: The Huskies regular-season winning streak is now 121 games. The Huskies also won their 81st straight home game, and their 53rd straight regular-season non-conference game.
Bruno coached the game while leaning on a crutch. He said he will undergo spinal fusion surgery on Dec. 11 to fix what has become a debilitating back problem that makes it difficult for him to walk.
“Maybe I’ll be back (this season), maybe I won’t,” he said. “We’ve got a great group of assistant coaches that will run this thing if I can’t come back.”
UConn learned Wednesday they will not get the top-ranked high school basketball player for a third consecutive year (Megan Walker, Christyn Williams). Haley Jones, a 6-1 wing from California, committed to Stanford. UConn signed just one player this fall, Aubrey Griffin, a 6-1 wing from Ossining, N.Y., who averaged 29 points and nine rebounds last year.
“You just go through some cycles where the kids you want, you know it’s a longshot,” Auriemma said. “So, why don’t you take some other kids? I don’t want them. But you have to do something. So, we got a really good player. Aubry Griffin is really, really good and she fits us perfectly.”
Auriemma announced that forward Batouly Camara suffered a sprained right knee in practice on Monday and is out indefinitely. The Kentucky transfer has averaged just 5 minutes, and just over two points a game this season.
DePaul: The Blue Demons play their second straight game against an American Athletic Conference opponent when they host Temple on Monday.
UConn: The Huskies head to South Bend for the 1 vs 2 matchup Sunday with top-ranked Notre Dame.