There have certainly been better wins for UConn women’s basketball head coach Geno Auriemma in his 33 years, but the Huskies’ 88-60 victory over the Oklahoma Sooners at Mohegan Sun Arena Tuesday evening gave the legend his 1,000th career win. Only three other coaches in women’s college basketball history have accomplished this feat. His top assistant coach, Chris Dailey, has been there for all 1,000 wins.
Offensively, the Huskies were led by Azura Stevens, who finished with 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting. Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson both finished with 19 points apiece while Gabby Williams snagged a game-high 10 rebounds.
The Huskies found their stroke from deep in the first quarter, hitting a trio of threes to open the game.
However, they had a scare when Gabby Williams went down in pain after trying to draw a charge and subsequently went to the locker room. Luckily, she returned before the end of the quarter and didn’t appear hampered by the injury.
UConn’s hot shooting continued into the second quarter as the Huskies pulled off a quick 6-0 run, forcing Oklahoma to take a timeout. UConn had a balanced scoring attack as five players had at least nine points at the half.
But the Huskies were unable to build their lead as their defense struggled to stop the Sooners down low. At the half, 16 of Oklahoma’s 33 points came in the paint while Maddie Manning scored 15 points on six-of-11 shooting.
The halftime break didn’t alleviate any issues for UConn. If anything, it made them worse. The Huskies failed to score for the first two-and-a-half minutes of the third quarter and only managed three points in the first five minutes. Oklahoma took advantage, pulling off a 7-0 run to close the 15-point halftime deficit to just seven points at the under-five timeout.
That was as close as the Sooners would get, though.
Napheesa Collier and Azura Stevens stepped up and scored 11 of the Huskies’ final 13 points in the quarter to stretch the lead to 17 entering the final quarter. UConn finished the period strong thanks to a lay-in from Collier followed up by a steal and layup from Katie Lou Samuelson on the ensuing inbound as time expired.
The Huskies traded baskets with Oklahoma in the final period, keeping the Sooners at arm's length. UConn finally began to pull away after the under-five timeout when they ripped off a 14-2 run to push the lead over 20 points.
While it certainly wasn’t the prettiest of victories, it counted just the same and gave Auriemma and Dailey their 1,000 career victory.
The Huskies will go for win No. 1,001 on Friday in Canada for Kia Nurse’s homecoming game against Duquesne. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. on SNY.