UConn women’s basketball battled through a tough and chippy game against the UCF Knights to come away with a 78-41 win.
The first half was a tale of two quarters. In the first period, UConn dominated. The Huskies went on a 10-0 run early to take a 12-2 lead. UCF hit a jumper that stopped the run before UConn ripped off 11-straight points more. After 10 minutes, the Huskies were up 23-4.
UConn held UCF to just 2-11 shooting, three rebounds forced the Knights into seven turnovers in the first quarter.
However, defense reigned in the second quarter. After the Huskies scored 23 points in the first, the two teams combined for just 24 points in the entire second frame.
UCF started the quarter fast, scoring 13 points halfway through the period. The Huskies, meanwhile, scuffled offensively with just seven points through the first nine minutes, including a four-minute scoring drought. However, UConn’s defense locked down and didn’t allow a point over the final 4:40.
While the Knights are known to be a physical team, they appeared to be trying to get Katie Lou Samuelson unraveled in the first half. UCF made life difficult for the senior in the post, leading to Samuelson calling the Knights “dirty” after taking an elbow to the ribs.
The halftime break didn’t seem to cool either team down. After a foul, Samuelson taunted UCF’s bench by pointing to the scoreboard shortly before the Knights’ Kayla Thigpen got called for an unsportsmanlike foul after lightly pushing Samuelson.
At the same time, UConn went on a 17-2 run that extended their lead up to 30 points. The defense continued to shut UCF down, limiting them to 13 points in the quarter that included a three and a half minute scoreless drought.
Despite playing a short rotation with only Olivia Nelson-Ododa getting minutes off the bench through the first three quarters, head coach Geno Auriemma worked more subs into the game in the fourth quarter as the Huskies’ lead grew.
Napheesa Collier picked up her 14th double-double of the season with 18 points and 11 rebounds. She hit 8-11 shots from the floor while also dishing five assists.
Katie Lou Samuelson snapped her streak of 122 games with at least one field as the senior went 0-5 from the field. However, she still finished with 12 points thanks to a perfect 12-12 effort from the free throw line. Crystal Dangerfield and Christyn Williams also had 12 points each, which Megan Walker had 13 points. Dangerfield also chipped in seven assists and six rebounds.
Next, UConn returns home to the XL Center on Wednesday against Memphis.