by William Richardson Jr.
Many believe UConn Women’s Basketball’s winning streak will end this season. But after making a trip to No. 12 Florida State, the streak—now at 76—continues. Sophomore Napheesa Collier posted a career game and make a game-saving block as the Huskies escape Tallahassee with a 78-76 win Monday night.
UConn (1-0) spent the majority of the first half trailing the Seminoles (1-1) and spent the majority of the second half holding a lead by the skin of their teeth. Unlike the past few years, there was no typical “UConn” run where they sprint out to a double-digit lead after the opponent keeps it close early. There was no Breanna Stewart, Morgan Tuck, or Moriah Jefferson and this game, like many across this tough schedule, was a battle for all 40 minutes.
With seven lead changes and 13 ties, this was a weird place for most players on the team, who are primarily used to leading a game from start to finish. During this current winning streak, the Huskies have only trailed three times, including tonight, 34-30.
UConn spent the entire first half trying to figure out what player would help lead their offense, as one might expect for a team losing its top three scorers from last year. It wasn’t Gabby Williams, who sat for 16 minutes in the first half with three fouls picked up in the first quarter. It wasn’t Kia Nurse, who only had two points going into halftime. And it wasn’t Katie Lou Samuelson, who finished the first half shooting two for nine from the field and had 3 fouls in the first half as well.
Instead, Collier stepped up to lead the offense and made plays when her team needed them. She finished with a career-high 28 points, going 10-for-14 from the field and hitting 7-of-9 from the free throw line while adding eight rebounds, three assists, and four blocks.
One of those blocks, with eight seconds left in the game on a shot by FSU’s Shakayla Thomas, the Seminoles from taking the lead towards the end of the game.
After that, UConn guard Crystal Dangerfield hit one of two free throws to give the Huskies a two-point lead with six seconds left. FSU had once last chance when Imani Wright, who finished with 25 points, missed a three-pointer off the front of the rim to clinch the game for UConn.
Despite senior Saniya Chong finishing with 16 points, all in the second half, and Samuelson finishing with 14, it was clear that UConn needs to find more consistency from its scorers. Two players fouled out, the Huskies committed 17 turnovers, and at times found themselves forcing shots when plays broke down. Though some credit for that certainly goes to Florida State’s defense and gameplan.
Florida State succeeding by attacking the Huskies the entire game with the trio of Thomas, Wright, and Brittany Brown. While Wright finished with 25 points, Thomas had 14, and Brown put up a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, it wasn’t enough to overcome Collier’s career night and some timely shots from Chong.
UConn will head home next, where the Huskies will face off against the No. 2 Baylor Bears at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday night at Gampel Pavilion. That game will be televised on SNY and ESPN 3.