ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Despite a physical effort from the opposing team, UConn imposed its will on the game, outworking UCF inside and out.
Napheesa Collier was the key, getting 18 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and four steals as No. 4 UConn completed a 78-41 victory Sunday.
“Of all the players on our team, Napheesa has the best matchup on the team,” coach Geno Auriemma said. “Every team we play has an impossible decision on how they are going to guard her, and she never stops.”
Five players scored in double figures for the Huskies (23-2, 11-0 American), including Christyn Williams, who scored all of her 12 points in the second half.
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“On the floor somebody has to be doing their job,” Crystal Dangerfield said. “And it could be rebounding, setting a good screen that’s what you want to do — it doesn’t always have to be scoring.”
Katie Lou Samuelson went without a field goal but hit 12 of 12 from the line and scrapped for every loose ball and deflection.
“I can contribute in different ways and I still felt like I did a lot for the team today,” she said. “I did what we needed me to do at times.”
The Huskies also held a plus-13 advantage on the boards and a 10-point advantage in paint points.
UCF surrendered 23 turnovers with just eight assists in a game where they shot 33 percent on the day.
Kay Kay Wright was the only offense for the Knights (20-5, 9-3 American) for most of the game, scoring 17 points. UCF shot 17 for 50 from the field and didn’t attempt a free throw until midway through the third.
The Huskies hopped out to a 23-4 lead over the Knights led by Collier who scored or assisted on 16 of 20 of the teams’ first 20 points scored. UCF responded with a 17-7 run, but wouldn’t cut in any more as they went on a four-minute scoring drought into the break.
SAMUELSON MOVES UP
Samuelson moved past UCF assistant Nykesha Sales (2,178 points) for fourth on UConn’s career scoring list.
“She came to UConn as a great 3-point shooter who has had to learn to become more of a complete player,” Auriemma said. “Become better defensively, get more physical like Nykesha was. It goes to show you that there are a lot of ways to get to the same end line — Nykesha did it her way (and) Lou did it her way.”
UConn: The Huskies struggled from deep early on (2 for 10), but they picked it up in the second half, knocking down (6 of 9) in the second half, making UCF pay off of over helping on dribble penetration.
UCF: The Knights forced the Huskies into 21 turnovers, but they were only able to turn those opportunities into 14 points.
“I think that’s part of our game, being physical … don’t let them get as many easy cuts as they did in the first game,” Wright said. “I think we did a pretty good job on that, jamming cutters and it was pretty good for us.”
UConn: Hosts Memphis on Wednesday.
UCF: At Wichita State
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