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UConn Women’s Basketball Takes Down Texas, 72-54

It started close but the Huskies prevailed for their fourth win over a ranked opponent.

Ian Bethune

Geno Auriemma’s UConn Huskies, the ones everyone expected to have a down year, have just kept winning.

In a battle of two top-15 teams Sunday, the No. 3 UConn Huskies beat the No. 14 Texas Longhorns, 72-54, in this year’s Jimmy V Classic. In the “neutral-site” game at Mohegan Sun Arena, Napheesa Collier led all scorers with 24 points to go along with eight rebounds and five steals.

UConn (7-0) has had four different players lead the team in scoring already this season, but was able to turn to a reliable Collier to give the team some much-needed offense when they needed it. The Huskies also got 15 points from Kia Nurse, 12 from Katie Lou Samuelson, and 11 from Gabby Williams.

UConn struggled early against the Longhorns (2-4), trailing 17-15 at the end of the first quarter and looking overmatched by Texas’ size advantage. The team’s veteran Nurse fueled UConn with 10 points in the second quarter as the Huskies took a 39-30 lead at the half.

In the second half, the Huskies took control of the game on the defensive side of the ball, forcing 13 turnovers to stop Texas from gaining any traction. In a game that also didn’t see a deep rotation from head coach Geno Auriemma (5 players logged more than 24 minutes), he was able to get production from almost every one of his players.

Key reserves Natalie Butler and Crystal Dangerfield both made an impact off the bench, with Butler logging four points, four rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks in 26 minutes and Dangerfield with two crucial three-pointers in that pivotal second quarter.

But it was mainly the effort of the upperclassmen that fueled UConn to victory. Samuelson added three rebounds and three assists, Nurse added four rebounds and five assists, and Williams added six assists and four steals.

Once UConn took the lead for good at the 9:15 mark of the second quarter, the closest that Texas was able to come for the remainder of the game was two points.

Texas did lose guard Ariel Atkins for the remainder of the game due to concussion-like symptoms after she hit her head on the court in the first quarter, but found bright spots in starters Brooke McCarthy, who had 15 points, and Kelsey Lang, who posted a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Though Texas outrebounded UConn 31-24, they couldn’t overcome their 26 turnovers and the 35 points that UConn scored as a result of them.

The game was ultimately closer than the final score would suggest. UConn didn’t really get on one of those runs where they put the game out of reach for good. They didn’t run Texas off the court or put in their second unit in the third quarter. The Huskies played a steady four quarters and battled for another solid win.

The Huskies’ next game is on Wednesday and will see them face off against the number one team in the country and familiar foe, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, in South Bend. That game will be televised from Purcell Pavilion on ESPN2 at 7:00 p.m.

Geno Auriemma Press Conference:

Karen Aston & Brooke McCarty (Texas) Press Conference:

Kia Nurse, Napheesa Collier, Gabby Williams & Katie Lou Samuelson: