In one of the best games of the women’s college basketball season, the No. 1 UConn Huskies defeated the No. 9 Texas Longhorns 75-71.
The game came down to the wire, with the Huskies clinging to a three-point lead with just 40.5 seconds remaining. Texas had a chance to get within one but Lashann Higgs front-rimmed an easy layup.
Katie Lou Samuelson pulled down the rebound and was subsequently fouled, but missed both her free throws, keeping it a three-point game.
On the ensuing inbounds, Azura Stevens was called for a foul before the clock began, which wound up benefitting UConn. The Longhorns’ Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau only hit one free throw to make it a two-point game instead of a one-point game with a basket. Crystal Dangerfield would hit a pair of free throws to seal the Huskies’ victory.
While Dangerfield ended the game, she also began it with a jumper to open the scoring. Texas responded with back-to-back three’s en route to an 8-0 run, stopped only by Katie Lou Samuelson.
However, UConn couldn’t close the gap as they struggled to get stops on defense. The Longhorns’ lead grew to as many as 10 points and looked poised to pull away.
But the Huskies got back within three by the end of the quarter thanks to a 9-2 run, capped by a three at the buzzer by Samuelson. The junior was vital for UConn in the first quarter, dropping 10 points and hitting big shots to keep the Huskies in range.
The pace slowed dramatically in the second quarter as both teams struggled to find the basket. UConn dealt with a pair of scoring droughts lasting over three minutes while the Longhorns went 5:10 without scoring.
The Huskies took a brief one-point lead off a pair of Kia Nurse three throws, only to give up nine consecutive points. However, they came storming back in the final two minutes of the half with a 10-1 run.
UConn took a one-point lead going into the break thanks to a layup by Napheesa Collier in the final seconds, set up by a big steal by Dangerfield.
Despite trailing, Texas dominated the half. They controlled the offensive glass, holding a 10-3 advantage on offensive rebounds. The Longhorns also forced UConn into nine turnovers which were converted into nine points for the home squad.
Out of the break, the two teams traded baskets and the lead. Texas pulled ahead by five only to be countered by a seven-point swing from the Huskies, sparked by a contested three from Kia Nurse.
UConn held the Longhorns without a bucket for over four minutes, which allowed the Huskies to take a six-point lead, their biggest of the game to that point.
But Texas continued to fight and didn’t let UConn run away with the game, as the Huskies often do. The Longhorns cut the deficit in half with a three before then taking a one-point lead.
Napheesa Collier picked up her fourth foul early in the fourth quarter, forcing her to the bench. Her replacement — Azura Stevens — came in and took over. After Gabby Williams hit a jumper to re-take the lead, Stevens scored the next eight points for the Huskies to build their lead entering the final minutes.
Stevens would finish with 16 points on 6-11 shooting along with three rebounds. Samuelson led all scorers with 19 points on 3-6 shooting from deep. Williams did it all, finishing with nine points, 11 rebounds and six assists.
A big difference in the game came from the free throw line. UConn hit 17 of 19 while Texas made just eight of 14.
With the win, the Huskies remain undefeated at 16-0. Next, they face Tulsa on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Gampel Pavilion.