STORRS, Conn. (AP) — UConn’s opponents in this NCAA Tournament have tried to speed up the Huskies and they’ve tried to slow them down.
Neither approach has worked.
Two days after running up and down the court in an 88-point win over Saint Francis (Pa), UConn beat in-state neighbor Quinnipiac 71-46 in a half-court game.
Napheesa Collier scored 23 points to lead the Huskies (34-0) into a 25th straight Sweet 16 on Monday night. Azura Stevens added 14 points and Kia Nurse chipped in with 13.
“I think it’s good of us to have one of each (style) this weekend, so we can prepare as much as we can for now the next round that we’re going to,” Collier said.
Jen Fay had 12 points to lead the ninth-seeded Bobcats (28-6), who saw their school-record 23-game winning streak snapped.
Quinnipiac got plenty of open looks, but hit just four of 24 shots from 3-point range, including just one of 12 from in the first half.
UConn shot 59 percent and held Quinnipiac to just 17 baskets on 56 shots (30 percent).
“The first half we were taking shots with under 10 seconds left on the shot clock, so they were a little bit more rushed I guess and maybe that led us to not hitting as many 3s as we are used to,” said Quinnipiac guard Carly Fabbri.
The Huskies never trailed. They opened with a 9-2 run and led 33-18 at halftime.
A pair of free throws by Stevens gave the Huskies their first 20-point lead late in the third quarter and it was 54-31 going into the fourth.
The Huskies were too big for the Bobcats, who had no player on the court over 6-foot tall.
Connecticut outrebounded Quinnipiac 33-21 and outscored them 28-14 in the paint.
It was just the second meeting between the two programs. The first, a 117-20 UConn win, came almost 20 years ago after Quinnipiac made the jump from Division II.
Quinnipiac: Fabbri, the coach’s daughter, finishes her career with a 113-26 record and three trips to the NCAA Tournament, where teams she was on went 3-3. This is the schools fourth trip to the tournament, all since 2015.
“It was just really a storybook ending to have with your daughter,” said coach Tricia Fabbri. “I was really excited for her to have this moment to close her career. It was a lot of fun and I just hugged her and said, ‘Great job.'”
UConn: The win was the Huskies 115th in their NCAA Tournament history against 18 defeats. The 86.5 winning percentage is the best in the history of the NCAA Tournament… UConn’s current 34-game winning streak is the longest in the nation and 12th longest in NCAA history.
ON THE RISE
UConn coach Geno Auriemma said he’s impressed with the job Tricia Fabbri has done in Hamden and believes Quinnipiac as a program has reached the point where it can consistently make the tournament and reach the second game.
“If you look around the country, mid-major programs are better than people think and they’re one of the best,” he said. “Women’s basketball mid-majors don’t get any respect. On the men’s side they do, but not on the women’s side. So for this year to have what’s happening with the mid-majors (winning), I think that’s the best thing that’s ever happened. I mean, I’m glad it didn’t happen more. I think it happened just enough times.”
UNBEATEN AT HOME
UConn seniors Kia Nurse and Gabby Williams will end their careers undefeated (80-0) in Connecticut, including 35-0 at Gampel Pavilion. Nurse said they were mindful every time they stepped onto the home court of the players that came before them “to try and make them proud. It’s been an increadible four years here and I’m glad we could end it the way we did. The ovation was absolutely incredible.”
IN STATE GAME
This was the third time the Huskies have beaten a team from the Nutmeg state in the NCAA Tournament. UConn beat Fairfield 93-52 in the first round back in 1998 and beat Hartford 75-39 in the opening round of the 2011 tournament.
Katie Lou Samuelson had just eight points for the Huskies, but also had eight rebounds, giving the junior 401 for her career. Stevens’ three blocked shots give her 152 in her career.
UConn plays fifth-seeded Duke on Saturday in Albany, New York. The Huskies have not played a game outside the state of Connecticut since their penultimate win of the regular season at SMU on Feb. 24. The Huskies will be looking to win a regional for the 11th consecutive season, finish unbeaten for a seventh time and win a 12th national championship.