Women’s basketball

January 17, 2019

NEW ORLEANS — There was no drama, no surprises. And it was largely due to Megan Walker.

For the No. 2-ranked team in the country, Wednesday was pretty much par for the course. From the effortless, free-flowing offense to the opportunistic defense, the UConn women were back to true form against Tulane. The Huskies took control early and rolled past the Green Wave 75-33 at Fogelman Arena in the Devlin Fieldhouse.

It was large part due to Walker, a sophomore, who poured in a career-high 34 points along with 10 rebounds. Walker’s previous career-best was 22 points against Temple on Jan. 21, 2018.

Three days after an uncharacteristically sloppy 63-46 victory over South Florida, in which coach Geno Auriemma benched all five starters midway through the first quarter, the Huskies responded convincingly. They put their stamp on the game early — closing the opening quarter with 14 straight points — en route to their 105th straight victory in American Athletic Conference play, 104 of them by double-digits.

The lone outlier amid the Huskies’ run of dominance in conference play was a 63-60 victory at Tulane on Feb. 18, 2017. There was no such repeat this time around, as the Huskies led by as many as 38 points.

Yes, life was back to normal for the Huskies, who built leads of 18-4 after the first quarter and 41-18 at halftime.

UConn’s impressive size, speed and athleticism, it was all too much for Tulane to handle. The Green Wave, who rolled into the game winners of six straight, were overmatched on both ends of the floor. They went the final 8 minutes and 13 seconds of the opening quarter without any points, missing nine straight shots.

Katie Lou Samuelson chipped in 17 points while Napheesa Collier scored 14 points and collected 10 rebounds. Tulane’s lead scorer was guard Kaila Anderson, with seven points.

With the win, the Huskies, who jumped into a tie with Baylor for second in the Associated Press poll, moved to 15-1 on the season, including 4-0 in AAC play. Tulane, meanwhile, dropped to 13-4 (3-1).

The Huskies were aggressive on defense, and it showed it early. They forced a whopping 12 turnovers in the first half and 22 for the game. The Green Wave shot a porous 18.3 percent.

UConn will return to the court Sunday when it wraps up its two-game road trip against Temple at the Liacouras Center (1 p.m.).

dbonjour@ctpost.com; @DougBonjour

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