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Final: UConn Women’s Basketball Defeats UCF, 80-44

It was sloppy at times, but the Huskies still came away with a big victory.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

It had been 54 days since the UConn women’s basketball team played at Gampel Pavilion, but the Huskies didn’t miss a beat upon returning to their on-campus home. They came away with an ugly 80-44 win over the UCF Knights.

Napheesa Collier opened the scoring with a layup on the first possession, but both teams quickly froze up. They combined to miss their next 11 shots, with UConn missing seven straight.

Out of the media timeout, the Huskies were kick-started by a pair of 3-pointers from Katie Lou Samuelson, which forced UCF to take a timeout. But it did little to slow anything down as UConn pulled off a 14-0 run, holding the Knights scoreless for nearly four minutes.

However, the start of the second quarter resembled the start of the first. Both teams had scoring droughts over 2:30. Despite not playing their best, the Huskies still held a comfortable 32-19 lead at the half.

With the Huskies shooting woes continuing out of the break, Gabby Williams picked up the slack on the fast break, scoring three-straight baskets including an acrobatic lay-up after a pass from Crystal Dangerfield.

“Gabby Williams single-handedly turned the game around in the second half,” head coach Geno Auriemma said.

Although the Knights managed to stick around for much of the game, UConn closed out the third quarter on a 12-2 run to finally pull away. The run continued into the fourth quarter as the Huskies finally put it away for good.

By the media timeout, UConn’s lead rose past 30 and Auriemma gave his reserves some run in the final minutes.

Azura Stevens led all scorers with 19 points while also totaling nine rebounds in just 18 minutes off the bench. Williams led the team with 13 rebounds while also racking up eight points and five assists.

The Huskies had their way down low, out-scoring UCF 44-12 in the paint and out-rebounding them 43-30. Despite a rough night offensively, UConn still managed to shoot 50 percent on the night.

Next, UConn travels to Texas to face the Houston Cougars on Jan. 13. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m. on SNY.

Head coach Geno Auriemma:

Crystal Dangerfield, Azura Stevens, Gabby Williams: