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Final: UConn Women’s Basketball Defeats Tulsa, 78-60

The Huskies’ reserves saw plenty of action in the victory.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

After using just six players in Monday’s win over Texas, UConn women’s basketball head coach Geno Auriemma gave his second unit some run in the Huskies' 78-60 win over the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Needless to say, he wasn’t pleased with their performance.

“If I could have it my way, we would give every person at the game tonight their money back,” he said. “That was the most disgraceful effort I’ve seen at Connecticut in the 32 years I’ve been here.”

At the start, Tulsa came out hot, hitting three shots from behind the arc to take an early 9-6 lead over the Huskies. However, the Golden Hurricane would quickly come crashing back to reality.

UConn ripped off a 16-0 run to get some breathing room before the first quarter concluded. The Huskies defense locked down Tulsa as they failed to score for over half the period.

Geno had been critical of his bench as of late but gave them a chance to prove him wrong. To kick off the second quarter, he sent out Molly Bent, Mikayla Coombs, Kyla Irwin, Azura Stevens and Megan Walker instead of the starters.

The unit underwhelmed, to say the least. They played the entire quarter, struggling with turnovers as they tied the Golden Hurricane, 16-16, during the period. Stevens and Walker were the only players to score.

“The guys that don’t play much? There’s a reason they don’t play much,” Auriemma said.

While the starters returned for the start of the second half, UConn’s first quarter dominance did not. The Huskies maintained a healthy lead all night but were unable to pull away from the visitors. At one point in the fourth quarter, Tulsa got within 10 points but the game never felt in danger.

In the end, UConn came away with one of their most unique victories of the season.

In a game where the bench drew much of the attention, the Huskies’ sixth player, Azura Stevens, led all scorers with 22 points on nine-of-11 shooting. But it was her play on the opposite end of the court that drew fire from Auriemma.

“You can’t give up more layups than Z gave up. It’s not possible,” said the coach. “It’s mind-boggling. I don’t have any explanation for it.”

Napheesa Collier totaled 19 points as well as a team-high eight rebounds. Molly Bent was the only reserve besides Stevens and Walker to score, as she notched a three-point play in the third quarter.

Katie Lou Samuelson started the game after getting a black eye against the Longhorns but left in the third quarter due to an injury. She did not return.

“Lou turned her ankle. We’ll know more tomorrow but it doesn’t look good,” Auriemma said after the game. “The way she came off the court, it wouldn’t surprise me if she didn’t play on Sunday.

The coach also noted that Crystal Dangerfield is dealing with shin splits while Gabby Williams re-aggravated a sore hip on her final play of the game.

Next, UConn will face off against Temple on Sunday, with tipoff set for 1 pm at McGonigle Hall.

Geno Auriemma Postgame

Napheesa Collier, Azura Stevens, Kia Nurse postgame