In their first American Conference Tournament game, the UConn women’s basketball team blew past Tulane, 82-56. The Huskies lost a pair of starters to injuries during the game, but neither appears to be of much concern.
Gabby Williams went down awkwardly in the second quarter and limped straight into the locker room with the trainer. She returned to the bench in the second half but did not play.
“Her hip’s been bothering her for a long time, she just tweaked it a little bit on the one defensive possession we were in,” Head coach Geno Auriemma said. “She could’ve played if we didn’t play for another week but there was no point in aggravating it more. We’ll know tomorrow in shootaround and I’m guessing that everything will be fine.”
Crystal Dangerfield, meanwhile, injured her right ankle going after a rebound and also went into the locker room. She jogged back out to the bench without a noticeable limp. Dangerfield did not return, either, but both players were likely held out for precautionary reasons.
“It just got landed on, it’s fine,” Dangerfield said on her injury.
Tulane battled hard out of the gate, answering every UConn basket with a big shot of its own. With 6:05 left in the first quarter, the Green Wave drained a three to pull within a single point. Unfortunately, that would be the last points Tulane scored in the first quarter.
Dangerfield responded with a three-pointer and then Kia Nurse took a pair of steals coast-to-coast for a layup. The Huskies scored 10 points in 77 seconds as part of a 21-0 run that spilled into the second quarter.
By halftime, UConn’s lead grew to 52-22.
In the third quarter, the Husky offense sputtered without two of starters and was outscored by the Green Wave 20-19. However, Tulane failed to make a substantial dent in the deficit which allowed Auriemma to play his reserves — and protect the remaining starters from injury — in the final quarter.
“I think we knew we were going to win at halftime,” Auriemma said. “There isn’t that same sense of urgency at halftime.”
Katie Lou Samuelson led the way offensively, dropping 21 points while grabbing five rebounds. Fellow junior Napheesa Collier wasn’t far behind with 19 points while racking up seven rebounds and five assists.
Dangerfield had a strong shooting day despite missing much of the second half, hitting all four three-pointers she took on her way to 14 points. Azura Stevens scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds off the bench.
Next, the Huskies will play Cincinnati, who beat Tulsa, in the semifinals on Monday at 7 p.m.