UConn women’s basketball Huskies tip off Paradise Jam with rout of Mississippi
ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands — It might not have been vintage UConn. It still, however, was more than good enough.
The Huskies tipped off their time at the Paradise Jam by crushing Mississippi 90-50 on Thursday at the University of Virgin Islands Sports and Fitness Center.
After the Huskies fell behind — only briefly and extremely early in the game — it was Napheesa Collier who got them going. The senior forward enjoyed a strong start — and never really stopped. She scored 18 points, including 11 in the first quarter, and pulled down 10 rebounds.
Though the game marked the start of a back-to-back-to-back for the Huskies, head coach Geno Auriemma again used his lineup conservatively for most of the night. The Huskies (3-0) relied mainly on their starters until the fourth quarter, watching all five players score in double-figures.
All-American Katie Lou Samuelson led all players with 22 points, to go along with six rebounds and five assists. Megan Walker, finishing just shy of a double-double, added 12 points and nine rebounds.
Mississippi, a last-place finisher in the Southeastern Conference a year ago, led UConn just two minutes and four seconds in. After that, it was all UConn. The Huskies led 23-9 after the first quarter and 42-17 at halftime, thanks largely to a commanding 26-4 run.
The Rebels didn’t stand a chance against the Huskies’ fluid offense, whether it was in the half-court or in transition. There was simply no letdown from the No. 2 team in the country. They shot 44 percent in the first half, featuring a balanced and precise offense that was impossible to match.
This was the Huskies’ first appearance in the Paradise Jam since 2012 and third all-time (spanning seven matchups). And it was very much like their past trips. Entering Thursday, the Huskies had not played a game within single-digits at the tournament.
They will need to make a quick turnaround, as former Big East rival St. John’s awaits in the second game of the eight-team, round-robin tournament on Friday (7:30 p.m.). Led by Stamford native Tiana England, the Red Storm beat Purdue 68-62 on Thursday.
The Huskies will head into that matchup with an improving Olivia Nelson-Ododa. The 6-foot-4 forward from Georgia, who was widely regarded as a top-five recruit, delivered another strong effort off the bench: 11 points and two rebounds.
Mississippi fell to 3-2 with the loss. Shannon Dozier led the Rebels with 11 points.