UConn Women Deliver Geno's 999th Career Win; Top DePaul, 103-69

They have won with a depleted lineup and relied on an array of players to navigate the first quarter of the regular season.

But on Friday night at DePaul’s new Wintrust Arena, the No. 1 UConn women’s basketball team rolled out its best players. The five starters who began the season took the floor at the start, the top reserve was came off the bench and the Huskies had their groove back.

And even against a running and pressing and opponent that attempted to keep a frantic pace, UConn was at its best. The Huskies distributed the ball, they spread the scoring and they went into a long break with an efficient win.

The 103-69 victory Friday night was the 999th of Geno Auriemma’s career. The UConn coach will bid for No. 1,000 Dec. 19 against Oklahoma in the Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase at Mohegan Sun Arena.

The Huskies (8-0) are off as the players take final exams. On the court, they’ve passed all of their tests and aced the challenge of playing — the craziness, as Auriemma calls it — of DePaul (6-3).

Six players scored in double figures, led by Katie Lou Samuelson (20 points). The Huskies had 34 assists and held a 53-27 rebounding edge.

On Sunday, UConn staged a comeback victory over Notre Dame with Samuelson and Gabby Williams unavailable in the fourth quarter. Both returned Friday, with Samuelson cleared to play after turning her ankle and Williams feeling better after experiencing a migraine.

Williams had 11 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. UConn also got 18 points and nine assists from Crystal Dangerfield, who was 6 of 7 on 3-point attempts.

Napheesa Collier added 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Azura Stevens came off the bench for 16 points and nine rebounds. And Kia Nurse added 13 points.

Defensively, the Huskies kept pace with DePaul and contested shots. DePaul attempted 43 3-points, converting 12.

“I thought we did a great job defensively, for the most part. … I thought we played really, really well,” Auriemma said. “We got some great performances from a couple of guys. We just have too many good offensively players.”

Samuelson completed just her second game of the season. She injured her foot in the second game against California, missing four games.

On Sunday, she had 18 points against Notre Dame before turning her ankle early in the fourth quarter. She ran through drills at practice this week and was cleared as she ran through the morning shootaround Friday.

“I’ve missed more games than I’d like to, so I clearly wanted to get out here knowing that we have this break coming up before our next game,” Samuelson said. “I was determined that if they gave me that opportunity, I was going to take it.”

Samuelson was 8 of 16 shooting and 3 of 7 on 3-pointers. She started slow, missing 5 of her first 6 shots and her first three 3-point attempts.

But she shook off the rust and, most importantly, did not think about her injury.

“Today was the first day that I just kind of went out there and played,” Samuelson said. “Of course, I felt a little rusty sometimes. Kind of felt winded at times, but it was nice to get out there and I feel comfortable moving on now.”

Against Notre Dame, UConn rode the play of Stevens during its comeback. It was significant that the Huskies could beat the third-ranked team in the country with two All-Americans on the sidelines.

“The last eight minutes of that Notre Dame game were really good for our team because two of our best players weren’t able to play,” Auriemma said. “So it gave us a good sense of, we can be pretty good regardless of who’s not playing…. That’s kind of how we felt.”

But Auriemma said Samuelson and Williams were determined and anxious to play Friday night. Samuelson, he said, was adamant.

And the difference was evident, as both brought energy to both ends of the floor. The Huskies trailed early in the game, when DePaul coach Doug Bruno removed all five starters for five substitutes. The Blue Demons continued to press and run, but UConn spread the ball and found an open shooter one possession after another.

The Huskies led 33-20 at the end of the first quarter and extended the lead to 61-38 at halftime.

“We made the right decision more times than not,” Auriemma said. “I thought we played really, really well. They’re a hard team to play against, I know that. I don’t like it. … I don’t like playing against them.”

Bruno, Auriemma’s close friend and assistant on the U.S. national team, isn’t so fond of the outcomes against UConn. This was DePaul’s 15th consecutive loss to UConn, but Bruno sees value in the meetings.

“It’s the best team in America,” Bruno said. “We wanted to test ourselves against the best team in America. We played competitive ball for a few minutes.We played exhibition basketball for more than a few minutes. I don’t like the results. We basically got beat badly tonight, but at the same time I know that we’re better for it.”


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