UConn women open season with rout of Ohio State
STORRS — Their lineup was a hodgepodge of mid-major graduate transfers and untested freshmen. Surely, with a prolific scorer like Kelsey Mitchell no longer around, they would need time to gel.
UConn wasn’t willing to wait.
The No. 2 Huskies asserted their dominance early Sunday, dominating the Buckeyes 85-53 to open the year at Gampel Pavilion. It was their 23rd straight season-opening win under Geno Auriemma.
Coming off their 11th straight appearance in the Final Four, the Huskies were finally entering what Auriemma had called “unchartered territory.” They had lost three players to the WNBA, forcing players who were heralded in high school to finally step up. From start to finish, though, they resembled the Huskies of old, overwhelming the Buckeyes into 15 first-half turnovers and a series of poor shots.
Megan Walker, the former National High School Player of the Year, was active in her first collegiate start, recording 15 points and six rebounds over 28 minutes. Katie Lou Samuelson scored a team-high 19 points to go along with seven rebounds and five assists. Napheesa Collier added 17 points, giving the Huskies four starters in double-figures.
The Huskies jumped on the Buckeyes (1-2) early, building a 30-12 lead after one quarter. That cushion would balloon to 49-19 at halftime thanks to an 11-of-16 performance from the floor by the Huskies.
Ohio State, which had split a pair of games against South Florida and Detroit to begin the season, lacked rhythm and consistency. The Buckeyes were out-of-sync offensively and out-muscled defensively, falling behind by as many as 30 points. They shot just 29 percent from the floor and committed 21 turnovers.
Carly Santoro, a graduate transfer from Bowling Green, led the Buckeyes with 20 points
In a scheduling quirk, the Huskies will play their second of two exhibition games on Thursday against Southern Connecticut State in Hartford (7 p.m.).