UConn and Temple may have entered the game as the top two teams in the American Athletic Conference standings but the final score showed just how far the void between number one and number two really is. The top-ranked and undefeated Huskies led by 22 after one quarter, 36 by the half and cruised to a 104-49 thrashing of the over-matched, visiting Owls at the Gampel Pavilion on the Storrs Campus Saturday evening.
Freshman forward Katie Lou Samuelson, in only her second start of the season, was sensational hitting four threes in the first half, finishing with 21 points on the night.
UConn Head Coach Geno Auriemma on starting Samuelson and her contribution on the night said, “We noticed a couple of things. We didn’t feel like we were getting (Breanna Stewart) in as many different places as we used to get her (the ball) because we weren’t able to let her roam around in there”. Adding, “(Samuelson) has been better in practice. She has been better in games and obviously, today was her best game played since she’s come to Connecticut and not all just because she shot the ball.”
Breanna Stewart put in her usual workmanlike performance scoring a game high 22, as six Huskies hit for double figures in the win.
On getting the starting nod Samuelson said, “It was important for me to get a good start. I had a good shoot-around and was confident and ready to go. Hitting shots early allowed me to do other things (on the floor).”
Samuelson dished out a team high six assists to go with her 21 point effort.
The teams traded baskets for the first two and a half minutes of the game before the Huskies unleashed a 22-0 run midway through the first leading, 32-10, going into the second frame. When the second quarter ended, UConn (16-0, 6-0 AAC) carried a commanding 57-21 lead into the locker room.
Temple (11-6, 5-2 AAC), despite starting two six-footers, was undersized at each position as blocks, steals and rebounding ignited UConn’s offense to the tune of 17 first half fast-break points.
Life was no easier in the paint for the Owls in the first with UConn scoring 28 first half points in the lane to Temple’s 12.
In speaking to UConn’s dominance, Temple Head Coach, Tonya Cardoza sounded a familiar refrain saying,”They’re really talented. They’re shooting the ball really well. When you have the best player in the world in (Breanna) Stewart that makes it easy. Tuck is having an unbelievable year. I think she is the unsung hero. Jefferson is the engine that gets it going. Then you have a bunch of guys that come in and know how to play their role and they do a really good job at it.”
With the win UConn moved to 6-2 all-time versus Temple and has now won 53 straight, dating back to last season.
Next up for the Huskies is an XL Center matchup with the Knights of UCF Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m. in Hartford.