Collier, Nurse lead No. 1 UConn over Cincy, 106-65
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Napheesa Collier says she’s proud of the fact that UConn never plays down to the level of its opposition.
Collier scored 25 points and Kia Nurse added 23 as UConn beat Cincinnati 106-65 on Sunday, giving the top-ranked Huskies their 150th straight win over an unranked opponent.
Azura Stevens had 20 points and Katie Lou Samuelson chipped in with 18 for UConn (22-0, 10-0 American), which has won all 80 of its regular-season conference games since the formation of the American.
“That’s one thing the coaches stress is that we need to treat every game the same no matter the opponent,” Collier said. “If you don’t, you’re just average. And that’s what sets UConn apart. We’re not average and we don’t try to be like everyone else.”
Gabby Williams contributed her fifth double-double of the season, scoring 13 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Her seven assists give her 400 for her career.
Antoinette Miller scored 20 points and Shanice Johnson had 17 to lead Cincinnati (13-10, 5-5 American). Johnson had 15 at halftime, but picked up her fourth foul four minutes into the second half.
The Huskies, coming off a 25-point win over defending national champion South Carolina, got off to a slow start. They trailed 11-9 before Nurse hit a 3-pointer and became the 24th player in program history to reach the 1,500-point plateau.
That started a 23-0 run to close the quarter.
Another 3-pointer from Nurse gave the Huskies their first 20-point lead at 35-15 and the rout was on.
The Huskies led by as many as 28-points in the half, but Cincinnati’s Nikira Goings hit a long 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to make it 52-30.
A three-point play by Nurse gave the Huskies their first 30-point lead at 63-32 and a third-quarter layup by Stevens made it 78-38.
It was the Huskies ninth win this season by at least 40 points.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats are now 0-18 against UConn, including going 0-14 under former Husky star Jamelle Elliott.
UConn: The Huskies played without starting point guard Crystal Dangerfield. The sophomore, who is averaging almost 11 points and four assists per game has been suffering from shin splints.
Elliott isn’t the only former Husky to struggle against UConn. Auriemma is now 35-0 against his former assistant coaches or players.
“Every time you play the game you hope it is going to be the one (to break through),” Elliott said. “You know we had the opportunity to beat them. Every time we play we have the opportunity to beat them, but it is going to be a tough one. It is hard to beat a juggernaut. You almost have to play a perfect game so, you know I am proud to be a part of this coaching tree.”
STAT OF THE DAY
The Huskies had 32 assists on 39 baskets, including seven each from Williams and Samuelson and five from Collier and Kyla Irwin, all forwards.
“We’re a good passing team and it’s not just our guards,” said UConn coach Geno Auriemma. “We spend a lot of time looking for and recruiting wings, post players that can make a play, and not just for themselves.”
Williams and Maya Moore are the only Huskies with at least 900 rebounds, 400 assists and 250 steals.
Which stat is she most proud of.
“Assists, for sure,” she said. “I take a lot of pride in the way I pass the ball. (But) I like it all.”
Cincinnati: The Bearcats conclude their two-game road trip with a game against conference newcomer Wichita State on Wednesday night.
UConn: The Huskies travel to Florida to take on UCF on Wednesday night before a three-game home stand that includes their final non-conference game of the season against No. 4 Louisville next Monday.
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