Print this story

Huskies amaze even Auriemma in 94-64 win to move into the Sweet 16.

POSTED March 20, 2017
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney


STORRS: Sometimes watching this year’s version of the University of Connecticut woman’s basketball team drove their head coach more than a little crazy.

Head coach Geno Auriemma has been around teams he struggled to figure out before, but at times, this year’s team gave him more than his share of head scratching moments.

Remember when he hoped his team got beat and even beaten badly earlier this season?

He wanted to do something to help convince his team that they had to do more and show more than what he was seeing.

Now remember that this is a team that ran the table during the regular season to a perfect record, swept through their American Athletic Conference Tournament and has now moved on to their 24th straight Sweet 16 berth after a 94-64 win over Syracuse.

They are at 109 and counting.

Too bad the rest of the country didn’t take advantage of the Huskies when their head coach thought they might be weak because right now, the engine is running at full strength and showing no signs of being out of gas, oil or even window washer fluid.

They are that smooth right now.

Even for long-time observers of this team, performances like Monday night are a remarkable thing to witness.

Here came the Orange, a team that made it all the way to the National title game a year ago before falling to these same Huskies.

A team that loved to run and press and make their opponent miserable with their style and determination.

None of that mattered on a night that featured some of the best press-breaking passing that led to a remarkable number that most teams don’t see very often.

The Huskies scored 33 baskets, they had 30 assists.

I’ll say that again.

30 on 33.

Nobody does that.

The level of unusualness in the sharing department was not the strange part, all UConn teams play an unselfish brand of basketball as a trademark, but what it led to for one player in particular was astounding.

Junior Kia Nurse set a school record with 9 made three pointers on 12 tries on Monday night, tying an NCAA Tournament record on the way to a 29 point night.

Nurse, who has seen her share of ups and downs during her three seasons here at UConn, was the beneficiary of the dish outs early and often on Monday night, hitting on three, three-pointers in a 28-point UConn first quarter.

The more the shots fell, the louder Nurse yelled.

The louder Nurse yelled, the more the shots fell.

Syracuse head coach Quetin Hillsman had a game plan coming in but it didn’t center around the fourth leading scorer on the team, why would he?

As the game progressed though, Hillsman saw that his team had made a crucial mistake.

“We forgot about her,” Hillsman said.

A costly mistake that the Orange never recovered from and for that, they head back to upstate New York and UConn heads to downstate CT on Saturday to play in the Bridgeport Regionals.

NOTES: Three other Huskies scored in double figures, led by Gabby Williams and Katie Lou Samuelson with 23 each while Napheesa Collier added 17.

UConn shot 62.3 percent for the game on 33-53 shooting and connected on 12 of 23 from downtown.

8274 showed up on Monday night to see UConn play for the last time in Storrs this season.

Williams and Collier were a combined 17 for 22 from the floor.

Maryland and Oregon will play in one Saturday games in Bridgeport while UConn will take on UCLA in the other.

The winners meet on Monday night for a spot in the Final Four.  

For more from Timothy W. Gaffney click here