Walker leads No. 2 UConn to 75-33 rout of Tulane
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Megan Walker has been playing well this past month.
On Wednesday night, she single-handedly outscored Tulane by a point in No. 2 UConn’s 75-33 rout. Walker scored a career-best 34 points in the easy victory.
“I think since we got back from Christmas, Megan has had a different approach to the game,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “Her effort is different. Her intensity level is different. Just her whole mannerisms are different. It’s obviously showed up in the way she’s played in games. These are the kind of games where you just need one person to step up because everyone else is struggling to make any kind of shot. Today, it was her.”
According to STATS, Walker is the first Division I player — male or female — to outscore the entire opposing team in a conference game since Cincinnati’s Steve Logan outscored Southern Miss 41-37 on Feb. 15, 2002.
Walker, a sophomore who averages 11.0 points game, scored 15 in the first half alone on 6 of 11 shooting, and finished 11 of 16 from the floor. With Tulane concentrating on stopping UConn’s leading scorers, Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier, Walker took command, driving to the basket with ease.
She said she was just having fun and trying to play with more confidence.
“This is just the second year (for me) now,” she said. “I’ve got a year under my belt and I want to make an impact, so I’m just focusing on that and being really aggressive the whole time.”
That aggressiveness — helping hold an opponent to four points over 10 minutes — is something Walker hopes is contagious.
“It was good tonight,” Walker said. “Coach keyed in on that at shootaround and pre-game. I feel like we did our job tonight on the defensive end.”
UConn (15-1, 4-0 American Athletic Conference) pounded the Green Wave (13-4, 3-1) with its size and strength, holding Tulane to 18.3 percent shooting and forcing 22 turnovers.
The Huskies held the Greenies to a season-low four points in the first quarter and then allowed just six points in the third quarter to coast to the victory.
“I thought we played great defensively for the entire 40 minutes,” Auriemma said. “Sometimes the defensive effort wanes as the game goes on, but I thought this was a really, really good defensive effort, coming off the last game (a 63-46 win over South Florida) when our players were a little disappointed with the way we came out.”
UConn dominated from the opening tip, holding Tulane to 15 percent shooting (2 of 13) in the first quarter. Tulane had won six consecutive games but could not overcome UConn’s relentless ball pressure. UConn led 38-14 at the half, and the Huskies’ defensive pressure forced Tulane into 12 first-half turnovers.
“It certainly was a tough day for us,” said Tulane coach Lisa Stockton. “We couldn’t shoot the ball very well, but most of all I was disappointed in our defensive effort. Twenty-two points in the paint in the first half was way too easy.”
Kaila Anderson led the Green Wave with seven points.
UConn: Including tournament victories, the Huskies are 105-0 in American Athletic Conference play. The previous low for a UConn opponent this year was 38 by Cincinnati on Jan. 9. The Huskies have allowed 39.0 points per game in its last three games against Cincinnati, USF and Tulane.
Tulane: The 33 points were by far a season-low for the Green Wave, who lost 56-48 to Old Dominion on Dec. 21.
CAN SOMEONE HIT THE BARN?
Each team struggled from the perimeter. UConn was 7 of 24 from long range, but Tulane was much worse, going 2 of 22.
“We were lousy, and they were lousier,” Auriemma said. “We rushed (Tulane) in the beginning, so the shots they normally get, they didn’t get too many of those today.”
UConn: The Huskies will play at Temple on Sunday.
Tulane: The Green Wave will travel to face South Florida on Saturday.