women’s basketball No Shocker, Huskies win

February 27, 2019

WICHITA, Kan. — There was a palpable buzz inside the Charles Koch Arena Tuesday night, as more than 5,000 fans poured in to see 11-time national champion UConn play for the first time.

Unsurprisingly, the Huskies treated them to a clinic.

The No. 2 Huskies sprinted their way to a thorough 84-47 victory over Wichita State to wrap up the American Athletic Conference regular-season title for the sixth straight season. They did so without Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma, who missed his second straight game because of a stomach virus.

UConn distanced itself from Wichita State with a 27-0 run spanning from the first quarter into the second. The Shockers, who went the final seven minutes and 39 seconds of the opening quarter without scoring, trailed 46-19 at halftime.

That first-half jolt was all the Huskies needed to secure their 100th straight regular-season conference win and 115th overall.

Napheesa Collier was simply too much for the Shockers (11-16, 4-10 AAC), who started two freshmen and are fielding the fifth-youngest roster in the country. Collier poured in a season-high 32 points on 13-of-15 shooting, including 28 over the first three quarters to help UConn build a commanding 70-36 lead. She also had 12 rebounds.

The Huskies’ other senior, Katie Lou Samuelson, scored 18 points, while Crystal Dangerfield chipped in 14.

UConn improved to 26-2 overall, including 14-0 in AAC play, heading into Senior Day against Houston at Gampel Pavilion (Saturday, 1 p.m.). The Huskies should have Auriemma back after the Hall of Fame coach missed only his ninth game in 34 seasons.

The Huskies moved to 9-0 all-time in games coached by associate head coach Chris Dailey.

Forward Olivia Nelson-Ododa turned in one of her most productive outings off the bench for the Huskies, scoring eight points and collecting six blocks. The freshman played 19 minutes, while guard Mikayla Coombs was on the floor for 18 minutes.

UConn led 70-36 after three quarters before opening up its largest lead in the fourth at 39 points.

Moving up the charts: Collier jumped to eighth on UConn’s all-time scoring list (2,169), passing both Kara Wolters and Diana Taurasi. The senior’s now just nine points shy of climbing into the top-5.

For a cause: The Huskies wore green ribbon pins on their warmups as part of the American Athletic Conference’s #Pow6rfulMinds campaign, aimed to create awareness about mental health issues.

dbonjour@ctpost.com; @DougBonjour