STORRS, Conn. (AP) — Freshman Anna Makurat has struggled with her confidence since arriving at UConn from Poland’s top basketball league.
The 19-year-old sharpshooter had been passing up open 3-pointers and hesitating with her decision making.
But on a recent trip to Dallas, the Huskies took in a Mavericks game and Geno Auriemma had Makurat study Luka Doncic, who also came from Eastern Europe, is just a year older and is thriving under the pressure of the NBA.
That seemed to click with Makurat. She scored a season-season 21 points on Sunday, helping No. 4 UConn to a 92-34 rout of Tulsa.
“Today, she was trying to channel her inner Luka,” Auriemma quipped.
“These last three or four games she’s looked really really good,” he added. “She’s getting more and more comfortable every day and finding spots on the floor where she can be successful. She feels better shooting the ball and she’s getting better defensively.”
Megan Walker scored 24 points and Crystal Dangerfield added 16 as the Huskies extended their American Athletic Conference winning streak to 127 games.
Christyn Williams and Aubrey Griffin each chipped in with 11 points for UConn (16-1, 7-0), which has won all 109 regular-season conference games and all six AAC tournaments since the Big East split and UConn was left in the American.
Makurat scored 16 of her points in the second half, finishing 8 of 12 from the floor and 4 of 7 from behind the arc.
She said she’s starting to get a handle on how to be successful on this level.
“I just trust the process I think,” she said. “Just don’t overthink stuff and play the game of basketball. It’s started to work for me. I hope it’s going to get better and better. I just want to stay confident.”
Addison Richards scored 11 points for Tulsa (5-13, 0-5), which has lost five in a row.
UConn was coming off two relatively close road wins, beating Memphis by 12 and UCF by seven.
But the Huskies scored the first seven points against Tulsa, jumped out to an 11-2 lead and never trailed.
UConn played stifling defense from the tip, holding the Golden Hurricane to just five baskets on 24 shots (20.8%) in the first half. It forced 16 first-half turnovers, converting them into 29 points.
The Huskies had 34 points off 21 turnovers in the game, while giving the ball away just 11 times, resulting in four Tulsa points.
“They were shooting the ball extremely well, their pressure got to us,” Tulsa coach Matilda Mossman said. “They were anticipating passes and getting up in passing lanes. Sometimes we were guilty of dribbling into them and they would double the ball and we were turning it over that way.”
A Makurat 3-pointer from the right baseline gave UConn its first 30-point lead at 38-8 and a 3-pointer from Walker just before the halftime buzzer sent UConn into the break up 48-11.
The Huskies extended that in the second half, led 69-26 after three quarter and finished the game shooting just under 56% from the floor.
Makurat’s final 3-pointer p rompted her teammates to do a little foot-shake line dance on the bench in celebration.
Walker said the team is having fun again.
“When you see things clicking, you see everyone in the right spots, everyone is hustling, everyone is playing hard, that’s where the energy’s coming from,” she said.
UConn’s bench, led by Makurat, outscored Tulsa’s 34-8. Auriemma said that can help players like Walker and Dangerfield, who have been under the mental pressure of believing they need to play all 40 minutes for the team to be successful.
“I think it’s the pressure of knowing, ‘I can’t come out,’ that ultimately wears you down,” he said.
Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane have never beaten Connecticut, falling to 0-10 in the series.
UConn: Its 98-game home winning streak was snapped in Hartford earlier this month by Baylor, but the Huskies have not lost in Storrs in seven years. The last time UConn tasted defeat at Gampel Pavilion was on Jan. 5, 2013, to Notre Dame, a game it lost 73-72. This was the first UConn game on campus since Dec. 8.
Tulsa returns home to face East Carolina on Tuesday.
UConn renews what was once the biggest rivalry in women’s college basketball when it hosts Tennessee in Hartford on Thursday. The two storied programs have not met since January 2007.