It was nerve-wracking at times but in the end, UConn women’s basketball came away with a 65-55 victory over the St. John’s Red Storm in their second game of the 2018 Paradise Jam.
The two teams went into the fourth quarter deadlocked at 47 before the Red Storm scored two quick baskets, prompting Geno Auriemma to take a timeout. From there, Crystal Dangerfield and Katie Lou Samuelson hit back-to-back threes as UConn pulled away thanks to an 18-4 run.
The Husky defense locked down St. John’s in the waning minutes, allowing just two points after the final media timeout. Dangerfield, Samuelson and Christyn Williams all played the full 40 minutes while Napheesa Collier played all but one.
Whether it was fatigue from playing back-to-back games, distractions, or just a solid game-plan from St. John’s, the game was tight from the start. The Huskies made just 3-of-12 shots in the first quarter as the Red Storm led for nearly eight of the first 10 minutes. After the first period, UConn trailed 16-12.
However, things seemed to return to normal once the second quarter began. Samuelson scored a pair of quick baskets to tie the game and not long after the Huskies went off on a 10-0 run to give them an eight-point lead.
But just after Dangerfield hit a trio of free throws with less than two minutes to go in the half to push the lead to nine, UConn’s offense went cold. They didn’t score again before the break and St. John’s hit a 3-pointer in the final seconds to cut the lead to just 29-25 at halftime.
In the third quarter, the Huskies’ lead quickly evaporated after the Red Storm got six straight points from Tiana England to put her team up 1. The lead changed hands five times the rest of the third. But UConn pulled away in the final quarter.
Megan Walker was dealing with foul trouble for much of the second half, so head coach Geno Auriemma went to Batouly Camara off the bench instead of freshman Olivia Nelson-Ododa. Camara scored 1 point in 5 minutes of action along with a rebound and a steal.
UConn’s three stars carried the team throughout the tough battle. Collier, Dangerfield and Samuelson combined for 50 of the Huskies’ 65 points. Collier also tallied 9 boards and 6 assists on the day but struggled from the free throw line, hitting just 5-of-11.
UConn will have the chance to bounce back tomorrow night against Purdue in the final game of the Paradise Jam. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.