In their XL Center opener, the UConn women’s hoops team used a strong second half to overwhelm the Chattanooga Mocs, 80-43. The Huskies (5-0) were led by the sophomore duo of Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier, who combined to score 42 points.
Chattanooga (3-6), coached by Geno Auriemma’s former boss and mentor Jim Foster, jumped to an early 5-0 lead. The Mocs defense forced turnovers and converted a pair of three-pointers to pressure the Huskies.
UConn responded by going on a small run to take the lead, but the Mocs held tough, holding a one-point lead at the first media timeout. Dealing with a short bench, Geno Auriemma stuck with his starters for the entire first quarter and used the timeout to regroup. His team came out of the break and held Chattanooga to just two points.
While the Huskies stretched their lead, the Mocs hung around by keeping UConn out of transition. The Huskies were limited to just five fast-break points in the first half and the slower tempo allowed Chattanooga to keep pace.
After allowing an early bucket to start the second half, UConn exploded with an 18-0 run and held Chattanooga scoreless over the next 7:41, forcing 11 missed shots. The fourth quarter followed a similar script with the Huskies allowing just seven points in the final quarter.
With Crystal Dangerfield out due to concussion-like symptoms, the Huskies thin bench was stretched even thinner. Molly Bent was the top reserve, scoring four points in 18 minutes while showing that she’s a serviceable option with her defense and effort. Natalie Butler was the only other player off the bench to see significant minutes, grabbing four rebounds while adding six points.
Gabby Williams had a solid day all-around, posting a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds while also chipping in four assists. For the second consecutive game, she was able to stay out of foul trouble and was a big factor in the Huskies dominating down low, outscoring Chattanooga 48-16 in the paint.
With Dangerfield unavailable, Saniya Chong was responsible for point guard duties for most of the night, playing all but four minutes in the game. While she struggled to find the basket, scoring just three points on 1-of-6 shooting, she dished out a game-high five assists.
Geno Auriemma’s UConn Huskies have won 80 consecutive games and 52 straight at home. They have won 127 of their last 128 games.
While they were able to recover from their sluggish start tonight, the Huskies cannot afford to fall behind early in the coming weeks. The schedule for the month of December features five ranked teams, including undefeated Notre Dame. This key stretch will allow UConn to truly test itself before heading into the much lighter conference schedule.
The first opportunity will come on Thursday against No. 15 DePaul. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at Gampel Pavilion.