Tampa, FL — UConn continued their undefeated stretch Monday night, ending their last game of the regular season with a 96-68 win over the USF Bulls. This rounded out the Huskies’ ninth season undefeated, a total of 104 straight wins.
“They came out of the gate, and it was bang, bang, bang. We go into halftime, and we’re down 18 and their shooting close to 50%. What else can you do? We could never claw back into the game. They’re a very good basketball team,” coach Jose Fernandez recalled.
In both teams’ final games of the regular season, South Florida was the obvious underdog, but put up a fight against UConn in the first half of the game. The Bulls scored more points in the first half of the game than they did in their entire four quarters against UConn earlier this season.
But the Huskies came out strong, putting up 56 points in the first half. Napheesa Collier kept the Huskies in the lead, scoring 20 points in the first half, with six rebounds and one assist.
South Florida’s defense left more to be desired in the first quarter, and while they improved in the second, they couldn’t reign in the Huskies’ top scorers. Collier exceeded her career high, outscoring her previous 31-point game with a total of 39 points today.
By the end of the third quarter, UConn saw their biggest lead yet, at 80-57. The Bulls never regained their momentum after that, only scoring 11 points in the final period to UConn’s 16.
Although they were getting the critical possessions they needed, USF couldn’t sink the ball when they needed to, ultimately giving UConn the opportunities they needed to pull out a strong win.
Katie Lou Samuelson and Gabby Williams also played significant roles in the win for the Huskies. By the end of the night, they had contributed 16 and 18 points, respectively. Samuelson also chipped in with four assists, while Williams flirted with a triple-double adding nine rebounds and seven assists.
With another win under his belt, Geno Auriemma warned his team’s focus can’t be on the final win of the year.
“If you’re not careful...you don’t celebrate things along the way because you’ve got your eye on that one thing at the end of the season. If you’re not careful, it becomes that only thing that matters; winning a national championship.”