Collier, Samuelson help UConn beat South Carolina 97-79
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Napheesa Collier had 31 points, 16 rebounds and six assists to help No. 4 UConn beat 11th-ranked South Carolina 97-79 on Monday night.
Katie Lou Samuelson added 29 points for the Huskies (22-2), who blew open a close game with a huge third quarter in which they outscored the Gamecocks 29-12. Samuelson scored 14 points in the game-changing quarter. Collier added eight as the two seniors continued to carry UConn.
Collier has now scored 20 or more points in eight straight games and has three double-doubles in her past four contests. She left the game with just over a minute left and got a big hug from coach Geno Auriemma.
Samuelson has broken out of a three-game shooting slump at the end of January. She’s made 25 of 39 shots from the field the in past three games.
The victory was the 89th straight at home for the Huskies. That’s the second-longest winning streak in NCAA history, trailing only UConn’s school-record 99-game run. The Huskies’ last loss at the XL Center, where the game was played Monday night, was on Feb. 18, 2013, against No. 1 Baylor.
Bianca Cuevas-Moore scored 25 points and Te’a Cooper had 20 to lead South Carolina (17-6), which had won 13 of its past 14 games.
South Carolina got off to a hot start, hitting 10 of its first 12 shots to build a 22-12 lead. UConn closed within 27-23 at the end of the quarter. The 27 points equaled the most points the Huskies had given up in a period this year, matching the total DePaul had in the third quarter of a 36-point loss by the Blue Demons.
UConn continued its 16-5 burst to start the second quarter and took its first lead of the game on Crystal Dangerfield’s 3-pointer. The teams traded the lead for the rest of the half with the Huskies ahead 44-43 at the break. Collier had 15 points and eight rebounds at the half for the Huskies.
UConn is now 8-0 all-time against South Carolina since the schools first played in 2007. The Huskies didn’t go to the bench until 1:48 into the third quarter when Olivia Nelson-Ododa came in for Megan Walker. This was the Huskies’ third game in six days. … South Carolina had averaged 43 points in the paint over its previous four games. The Gamecocks were outscored 50-30 in the paint on Monday.
WNBA players Sue Bird (UConn) and A’ja Wilson (South Carolina) provided commentary for an alternate “smack talk” broadcast to the game on ESPN3. During the third quarter, Bird went over to the UConn huddle to listen in on Auriemma’s comments with the Huskies up by 10.
“It’s nice to be able to be biased,” said a smiling Wilson, who is broadcasting games on the SEC Network this winter. “It’s fun to be able to purely cheer for and root for South Carolina.”
Bird got the last laugh, though.
South Carolina: Hosts Georgia on Thursday.
UConn: At Central Florida on Sunday.
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