Samuelson helps No. 1 UConn beat Central Florida 55-37
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Geno Auriemma and No. 1-ranked UConn played a slow-paced game against Central Florida.
The Hall of Fame coach didn’t want people to be misled by the 55-37 final score Wednesday night.
”We’re supposed to win every game 100-50 and if we don’t it’s because we (stunk), not because the other team was pretty good,” Auriemma said. ”UCF’s pretty good.”
Katie Lou Samuelson scored 19 points, Azura Stevens had 12 and Napheesa Collier added 11 points and 12 rebounds for UConn (23-0, 11-0), which has never lost an American Conference, a stretch of 81 straight games.
However, this was, by far, the Huskies lowest scoring game of the season. UConn came into the game averaging a NCAA best 93.1 points a game.
The Knights (16-8, 8-3) got 13 points from Zakiya Saunders and 12 from Korneila Wright, but never seriously challenged UConn, except in the fourth quarter.
UCF outscored the Huskies 17-7 in the fourth, including a 13-0 run late in the game. They outscored UConn 25-18 in the second half after trailing 37-12 at halftime.
”To hold this team to 18 points in 20 minutes is remarkable,” UCF coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson said. ”One day I hope we start to get closer to this team in talent because their talent is pretty overwhelming, but we played pretty good defense and wore them out.”
Auriemma agreed with that. He didn’t have point guard Crystal Dangerfield, who was out with shin splits. That led to 18 turnovers in the game, many of them in the fourth quarter, as UConn struggled to beat UCF’s press.
”I think we got tired,” Auriemma said. ”They hold the ball a lot and make you play defense. I thought our defense was great for the first three quarters, then we got a little tired.”
UConn jumped on UCF from the opening tip and made it a runaway by the end of the first period. Samuelson hit a pair of 3-pointers and Stevens had an easy time around the basket, making four layups as UConn led 21-4 by the end of the first quarter.
UCF tried to limit the damage by working the shot clock under 10 on every possession, but the Knights had a hard time finding anyone to pull the trigger. The Knights were just six of 25 in the first half and committed nine turnovers, including four shot-clock violations.
UConn: The Huskies low score had as much to do with UCF’s aggressive defense and deliberate offense as it did with the ineffectiveness of UConn’s offense. UConn could never get the fastbreak part of its offense running and had a lot of trouble with UCF’s press.
UCF: The Knights went scoreless for the first 5:45 of the game, missing their first six shots and turning the ball over three times before Saunders ended the drought with a 15-foot jumper. The Knights trailed 21-4 at the end of the first period and never recovered.
THREE ALONE: Samuelson, UConn’s leading scorer this season, was the only player on the floor to make a 3-pointer in the game. Samuelson hit four of nine from behind the arc. UCF was 0-for-11 from 3-point range.
UCONN: The Huskies head home to play Wichita State on Saturday.
UCF: The Knights travel to Philadelphia to meet Temple on Saturday.