PHILADELPHIA, PA. 2/1/2017 – The University of Connecticut Huskies are the number 1 team in the nation, and now have a 96 game winning streak. They showed a crowd of 4,371 at the Liacouris Center why defeating the Temple Owls 97 – 69. The effort by the Huskies in the first half was flawless in the words of Coach Geno Auriemma.
“We were very efficient,” said Auriemma said. “We got great shots. We got the right people getting the right shots at the right time. That was about as good as a first half that we played.”
In the initial twenty minutes UConn made 20 of 26 shots (77%), their best shooting half of the season, and held Temple to 7 of 36 from the floor. The shooting was a direct result of the defensive presence of the Huskies who made the Owls pay for every mistake as they held a 19 – 1 points off turnovers advantage. The Owls had 13 miscues. Those baskets were a result of fast breaks as the Huskies scored 32 points in the paint compared to 6 for Temple.
“The way we started the game on the defensive end, the way we wanted to keep them off balance, we got it done,” Auriemma said. “What that did was it led to some really good stuff on the other end.”
“Playing UConn, every night they show you why they are great,” said Temple Coach Tonya Cardoza. “Their defense is great. They put a lot of pressure on you. When you turn the basketball over, they are out in transition, and that will put you in a big hole.”
The Owls had the spirit coming out. They scored the first basket, then later a three-pointer by Donnaizha Fountain made it 6 – 5 UConn. Then, the run started. Later in the second quarter Connecticut used an 18 – 2 to take total control. The lead grew to 52 – 18 at halftime.
The second half was a bit different for the Cherry and White. Trailing 70 – 31 Temple went on a 16 – 4 run over the last four minutes of the quarter. The score was 74 – 47, but the Owls realized they could complete winning the third quarter 29 – 22. For the half it was 51- 45 Temple, but the first half was too large a hill to climb.
“In the first half we were caught up in the hype and didn’t compete,” Cardoza said. “In the second half we threw that out of the window and just competed with them. Things were different.”
Connecticut forward Napheesa Collier recorded a double-double scoring a game-high 25 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Collier made 12 of 14 field goal attempts. Forward Katie Lou Samuelson recorded 24 points making 9 of 14 from the floor and 2 of 4 from distance.
Tanaya Atkinson led Temple with 20 points and 10 rebounds, her 6th double-double of the year and 8th overall. Alliya Butts added 13 points and Khadijah Berger tied her season-high with 12 points. Fitzgerald ended the game with 7 points and had a team-best 6 assists.
Temple (16 – 5, 6 – 2) will travel to Tulane for their next game on Sunday, and wants to make the second half of this game be a building block for the next game.
“That’s what we’re hoping for,” said Cardoza. “To be able to come out in the second half and play with them, hopefully that is something we can build on. The season is still long. To be able to build off that second half is a good thing.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian