The odds makers probably gave David better odds in knocking off Goliath, then the chance they gave Robert Morris in picking off top-ranked, top-seeded and undefeated UConn in the first round of the NCAA tournament in Storrs Saturday morning. To no one’s surprise the Colonials were no match against the giants of women’s college basketball as the Huskies led by an astounding 37 points at the close of the first quarter and rolled to a 101-49 opening round win at the Gampel Pavilion.
Freshman Katie Lou Samuelson, who single-handedly outscored Robert Morris in the first half with 17 points, led all scorers with 22 points on 10-14 shooting, as six Huskies in all hit for double figures in the rout.
Said Samuelson, “I thought we all got off to a good start and a good run. Our energy was really high, it just made it easier for us to make our defense transition into offense.”
UConn (33-0), shot 56% for the game, but the Huskies defense, especially in the first half, completely hand-cuffed the 16th seeded Colonials, holding Robert Morris (20-13) to 24% shooting over the first two quarters while forcing 20 Colonial turnovers by the break.
Breanna Stewart (18 pts, 5 rbs, 8 stls), commented on The Huskies hot start on both sides of the floor saying, “We didn’t really focus on it. We just wanted to come out and play hard fright from the start. The entire team was excited. When it comes to NCAA Tournament time you don’t have to try and get someone excited to play a game. Everyone was ready to play and we came out and we’re ready to go.”
UConn led 64-15 by the half and held coach Sal Buscaglia’s squad to just four first quarter points, leading, 41-4, after the first quarter horn sounded.
UConn scored 50 of its points off Robert Morris turnovers.
UConn coach Geno Auriemma talked up the first ten minutes saying, “Those first 10 minutes that is about as good a way as you can to start a game and start a tournament. Not having played in 12 days, you don’t know what you are going to get when you come out… I didn’t know we were capable of that after not playing for 12 days. Obviously Robert Morris helped, they struggled handling the ball with our pressure.”
The onslaught continued into the second half with the Huskies leading by as much as 66 early in the fourth quarter before eventually settling for the 52 point margin of victory.
Despite the loss Buscalgia, who announced his retirement this year, praised his squad in an emotional post game presser, saying, “So proud of my players. Being down with that type of deficit, giving up 41 points in the first quarter and then to come back like that and play to the final horn. We always talk about that with Robert Morris women’s basketball, we are going to fight until the end no matter what the score is”
UConn will face ninth-seeded Dukes of Duquesne (28-5) Monday night at 9 p.m. in a second round matchup that will also be played at Gampel, with the winner moving on to the Sweet 16 in Bridgeport, CT next weekend.