UConn’s new blood leads team in opener

The Associated Press

STORRS, Conn. — Napheesa Collier and Gabby Williams didn’t play big roles for UConn on last season’s national championship team.

The Husky forwards sent a message during Saturday’s 116-55 first-round rout of Albany that they plan to lead the team in the quest for a fifth straight title.

Collier scored 24 points, Williams had 20 and each pulled down 10 rebounds to help the top seed to the program’s 108th straight win and 25th straight in the NCAA Tournament.

Kia Nurse, who missed the last four games of the regular season with an ankle injury, also scored 24 points. The junior guard when 6-for-7 from 3-point range for the Huskies (33-0), who haven’t lost in the first round since 1993.

“The rest of the team is going to feed off of what we do, whether that’s positive or negative,” Williams said. “So we have to make sure that if we’re going to say something we have to being doing it too. And we have to lead by example.”

Imani Tate had 19 points and Jessica Fequiere scored 16 to lead Albany, which ends the season at 21-12.

The Great Danes, who upset Florida in the opening round of last year’s tournament, were never really in this game

UConn opened each of the first three quarters with 9-0 runs. The Huskies hit 62 percent of their shots and outscored Albany 52-18 in the paint.

“That first three or four minutes of the second half I think kind of ended the game for all intents and purposes,’ UConn coach Geno Auriemma said

Collier had 13 first-quarter points and hit a layup and foul shot that gave the Huskies their first double-digit lead at 23-12. UConn led 37-18 after 10 minutes, with 20 points coming in the paint. Collier had 18 points by halftime and Williams added 16 to extend the lead to 58-32.

The Huskies had 34 assists on their 43 baskets.

Crystal Dangerfield scored 16 points and added six assists for the Huskies and Katie Lou Samuelson had 15 points and a career-high nine assists.

“We just play and see what other teams are going to give us each game,” Sameulson said.

“Pheese and Gabby were basically unstoppable in the paint and Kia stepped up really big for us, so we were just doing what we could to feed them.”

This was the 13th time since 1997 that UConn’s first-round margin of victory has exceeded the number of points put up by its opponent, but Tate said she didn’t feel the Huskies were running up the score.

“You want to send a message to the rest of the tournament and they did what they had to do,” Albany’s senior guard said. “They played hard for 40 minutes. They’re a great team. They’re not going to sit there and just settle. You’re going to keep going hard.”

Elsewhere:

BAYLOR 119, TEXAS SOUTHERN 30: Kalani Brown scored 21 points and top-seeded Baylor overwhelmed much smaller Texas Southern in the most lopsided women’s NCAA Tournament game ever. The Lady Bears (31-3) were ahead 22-0 after Alexis Jones, on her first shot in her first game since Feb. 20, hit a 3-pointer just more than 6 minutes into the game. The 79-point margin broke the previous record 74-point win by Tennessee over North Carolina A&T (111-37) in 1994.

UCLA 83, Boise State 56: Monique Billings scored 19 points and Jordin Canada had 15 points and 16 assists to help fourth-seeded UCLA roll to a win over Boise State. The Bruins (24-8) opened the game with a 15-0 run and were never seriously threatened the rest of the way.

Miami 62, Florida Gulf Coast 60: Keyona Hayes scored 16 points, including the go-ahead basket inside with 1.5 seconds remaining, and fourth-seeded Miami rallied to beat 13th-seeded Florida Gulf Coast.

Oregon 71, Temple 70: Ruthy Hebard hit a jumper with 5.5 seconds remaining to lift Oregon past Temple. Hebard finished with 23 points and Sabrina Ionescu added 16 points to help the 10th-seeded Ducks (21-13) win a wild game that had three lead changes in the final 30 seconds and advance to Monday night’s second round.

Kansas State 67, Drake 56: Breanna Lewis had 23 points and 11 rebounds, Kindred Wesemann added 16 points and seventh-seeded Kansas State beat No. 10 seed Drake.

Stanford 72, New Mexico State 64: Alanna Smith had 19 points and 11 rebounds, Karlie Samuelson hit five 3-pointers and finished with 17 points, and No. 2 seed Stanford survived a spirited upset bid to beat No. 15 seed New Mexico State 72-64 on Saturday in the NCAA Tournament. Playing nearly 1,800 miles from home due to a scheduling conflict at Maples Pavilion, the Cardinal (29-5) looked lost most of the afternoon, trailing the Aggies (24-7) by as many as nine early on.

Tennessee 66, Dayton 57: Diamond DeShields scored 24 points to lead fifth-seeded Tennessee to a first round victory over Dayton. The Lady Vols (20-11) used a strong second half to pull away from the 12th-seeded Flyers (22-10), shooting 52 percent after halftime to earn the victory. DeShields and Mercedes Russell wouldn’t let the Flyers couldn’t mount a comeback. They scored 23 of Tennessee’s 37 points in the second half to lead the way.

Louisville 82, Chattanooga 62: Asia Durr scored 27 points to lead fourth-seeded Louisville to a victory over Chattanooga.

Quinnipiac 68, Marquette 65: Jennifer Fay scored 20 points and 12th-seeded Quinnipiac held on in a frantic final minute to upset fifth-seeded Marquette. Paula Straut-mane scored seven of her 15 points in the fourth quarter for the Bobcats (28-6), who opened on an 18-4 run and were up 52-33 midway through the third quarter before Marquette roared back and got within two.

Syracuse 85, Iowa State 65: Brittney Sykes scored 28 points and Alexis Peterson added 25 to lead eighth-seeded Syracuse to a win over Iowa State.

Oklahoma 75, Gonzaga 62: Vionise Pierre-Louis had 17 points, nine rebounds and nine blocked shots and No. 6 seed Oklahoma used its early hot shooting to hold off 11th-seeded Gonzaga.

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