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Final Score: UConn Women’s Basketball Throttles DePaul, 91-46

Kia Nurse shines in a statement win over the Blue Demons.

Kia Nurse lays in two of her career-high 33 points.
Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

The UConn women’s hoops team put any final whispers about a rebuilding season to rest on Thursday night with a decisive win over the No. 15 DePaul Blue Demons, 90-45.

The Huskies (6-0) dominated from the tip until the final whistle and delivered an early knockout punch in the form of a 37-point first quarter that DePaul could never recover from.

“I didn’t see it coming, to be honest with you. I never saw the score coming today. I never saw what Kia did coming today,” head coach Geno Auriemma said after the game.

Kia Nurse stole the show with a career night, displaying the talent that had earned her AAC Preseason Player of the Year, scoring a career-high 33 points on 12-of-16 shooting. Until the 6:30 mark in the fourth quarter, Nurse had more points than DePaul.

“Today at shootaround she (Nurse) missed five, six, seven in a row,” said Auriemma. “I had a great coaching moment. I was really proud of myself, I told her you have two choices: You either make them or you stop shooting, period. Then she started making all of them.”

The Huskies (6-0) ripped the game open with a 37-3 first quarter. The Blue Demons had no answer for UConn in transition, as the Huskies were consistently able to force a turnover and find somebody open going the other way for an easy lay-in.

“I just think we played with a little bit more of a purpose defensively and that got us off and running,” said Auriemma. “We created a lot of easy shots for ourselves because of our defense. It was a real big turnaround from Tuesday night in terms of what our defensive intensity was.”

When DePaul was able to get back on defense, it struggled to communicate and rotate, which allowed the Huskies to find their shooters on the outside. UConn hit a deadly 13-of-26 shots from three on the night.

In the second quarter, UConn came back down to Earth and the game took the form of the matchup that many expected to see coming in. However, the Huskies came out of halftime on fire and rolled off a 14-4 run to push the lead to 41 at the first media timeout.

The Blue Demons recovered and held the Huskies to 11 points in the final quarter, but it was way too late as UConn rolled to a blowout victory.

With Nurse taking on the scoring load, Katie Lou Samuelson was able to settle in behind the arc, scoring 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including 4-of-6 from three. She also tied for the team-lead with seven rebounds while also contributing seven assists.

Gabby Williams showed off her versatility, leading the team with 10 assists on the night while only scoring two points for herself. A benefactor of Williams’ distribution was Napheesa Collier, who scored 18 points on an efficient 9-of-12 shooting.

Simply put, this was a statement win for the Huskies. While the narrative of this being a rebuilding year may have been overblown, they weren’t expected to flat-out dominate ranked teams like they did tonight.

DePaul never had a chance in this one, as UConn controlled from start to finish. It is a big confidence booster for a team that will need to continue to carry over the success from tonight during the well-documented stretch of games against ranked opponents.

But as always, Auriemma wasn’t going to put too much stock into a single win.

“I told them we played 20 minutes of really really exceptional basketball tonight. Is 20 really good minutes of basketball going to be enough to beat Texas and Notre Dame and Ohio State and Maryland? I don’t think so.

“So the trick now is for us to show up Sunday and play something more than 20 minutes of really good basketball. Today was a start in what kind of team we want to see.”

After tonight, the Huskies will turn their focus to the No. 14 Texas Longhorns for a Sunday afternoon matchup at Mohegan Sun. The game is part of the Jimmy V Classic, with the tip-off set for 4pm on ESPN.

Geno Auriemma postgame:

Kia Nurse, Gabby Williams, Katie Lou Samuelson postgame