Storrs, CT — Some things are just meant to be. And the 100th win in a row for the UConn women’s basketball team is exactly that for Geno Auriemma.
“Forget global warming, that’s the biggest phenomenon I’ve seen,” proclaimed Auriemma in trying to downplay this monumental moment.
Gampel Pavilion was packed to the rafters tonight as the UConn women’s basketball team made history on their home court. The Huskies won their 100th consecutive game with a 66-55 victory over South Carolina.
“Given where we started and where a lot of people expected us to be and who everyone else had coming back, for them to do it, I think it is very appropriate,” said Auriemma. “They probably feel better about it than last year’s teams would have. A big win like this against a really good team in an amazing environment.”
Gabby Williams was unstoppable, notching a career-high 26 points in tonight’s contest. Auriemma reflected on Williams performance comparing her to Maya Moore, stating she turned it on and channeled her inner Moore “…exactly when she needed it, the way it needed to be done.”
“Yeah Gab did a little bit of everything out there today,” said Kia Nurse. “She was all over the place; she was absolutely incredible. Just absolutely proud of her and she carried this team to a win.”
Napheesa Collier also tacked on double-digit scoring for the Huskies with 18 points.
For 18 minutes of the first half, it was nip and tuck, as South Carolina stayed up to pace with UConn, remaining within a point of the Huskies. But the UConn women are opportunistic, and were patiently waiting for the perfect moment to make a run on the Gamecocks.
With just over a minute left in the first half, the Huskies saw an opportunity and knocked down three in a row, starting with Collier draining her only trey of the night from beyond the arc to take the lead, 31-29. Williams, who finished on top for the Huskies, added a jumper. And it was Collier again who put the exclamation mark on the half, with a breakaway layup at the buzzer, ending the half up 35-29.
Despite that 7-0 run to end the first, though, the Huskies weren’t able to establish a flow on offense and were “searching for something,” according to Auriemma.
They came out in the second half with the game plan to only run two offensive plays for the entire half -- it worked. The Huskies widen the gap to as many as 16 points with just under four and a half minutes left to play in the fourth.
After allowing South Carolina to shoot 50% in the first and 45.5% in the second, UConn turned a page defensively in the second half, holding the Gamecocks to shoot only 25% in the third and 27.8% in the final frame. They forced South Carolina to turn the ball over a total of 17 times, and grabbed 19 points off turnovers.
"I just thought that for 18 minutes of the first half favored our game plan,” said South Carolina coach Dawn Staley. “And then we had those turnovers, and they went and scored, and it really hurt us, it deflated us....we had lazy passes, and they made us pay for it."
The Huskies finished the night going 26-63 (41.3%) and a perfect 100% from the free throw line.
“There were a lot of good players sitting in the stands tonight,” said Auriemma. “When I turned around and looked at the bench one time, I almost called a couple of them down. There were a lot of wins up in the stands tonight and a lot of championships.”
South Carolina was the last hard opponent UConn will face before the NCAA tournament. The Huskies have four more games remaining in the regular season, and are looking for win #101 on the road Saturday at Tulane.
As for the Gamecocks, they will look to bounce back Thursday when they host the Vanderbilt Commodores.