HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Katie Lou Samuelson ended her shooting slump by doing everything else well.
Connecticut's Katie Lou Samuelson (33) is fouled in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against East Carolina Wednesday. Feb. 6, 2019 in Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Stephen Dunn)
The All-American got out in transition and into the paint, scoring a season-high 31 points with five assists, four steals and three blocks to lead No. 5 UConn over East Carolina 118-55 on Wednesday night.
“That’s how any player can get out of a shooting slump,” she said. “It’s making sure that every play you are doing something, whether it’s scoring or not, but make sure you get involved.”
Napheesa Collier hit all 10 of her shots and added 21 points for the Huskies (20-2, 9-0 American Athletic Conference), who reached 20 wins for the 26th straight season.
Christyn Williams scored 15 points, Megan Walker 14, and Crystal Dangerfield had 12 points and 12 assists.
The Huskies had 35 assists on 45 baskets, giving up decent shots for easier ones.
“That next pass really says a lot about who you are,” coach Geno Auriemma said. “The other thing it says is, ‘Coach I always know when a guy is open, so in a big game, you can always trust me to make this pass.’ As opposed to, ‘When I get it, I’m shooting it. I don’t care who’s open.’”
Raven Johnson had 14 points and Lashonda Monk 12 for East Carolina (11-11, 2-7) which lost for the sixth time in seven games.
UConn opened with a 16-4 run. It was 41-13 after 10 minutes and 70-25 at the half. Samuelson had 18 points in the first quarter and had 27 by halftime.
“They scored a lot in transition and finding those flat-handed shooters in transition is something that we didn’t do a job at,” said Nicole Maealing, ECU’s acting head coach.
UConn has fallen to its lowest national ranking in a dozen years after a loss to No. 3 Louisville and a lackluster 10-point win at Cincinnati.
Samuelson was 7 of 24 from the floor in those two games. She made 9 of 11 shots on Wednesday and hit 11 of 13 foul shots. Most of her baskets came on layups, many in transition.
The Huskies outscored ECU 62-24 in the paint and 34-0 off turnovers.
“You have to be a basketball player, not a basketball shooter,” Auriemma said. “A lot of our guys tonight, they played basketball. They didn’t just stand around waiting for a shot, and Lou especially.”
The Huskies have won 87 straight home games and remain undefeated in conference play (110-0) since the inception of the American Athletic Conference in 2013. This was their 95th straight regular-season conference win, and they have also won all five conference tournaments.
East Carolina: The Pirates fall to 0-10 against UConn. ECU’s last win over a ranked opponent came four years ago when the Pirates beat then No. 25 South Florida 65-64.
UConn: The Huskies have scored at least 90 points in their last five meetings with ECU. They won the first nine games in the series by an average of just under 49 points per game.
Samuelson, who averages about 34 minutes a game, played just over 20 in this one. Collier, who averages 32 minutes, played just 21.
“I don’t think it’s that they need a breather because they’re tired,” Auriemma said. “I think what they need is they need to be able to sit down on the bench and look at the game and see some things that they can’t see from being out there. That is the biggest benefit of not being out on the court nonstop. So, if I can do that on a more regular basis, that would be great.”
Collier has scored in double figures in every game this season and has scored 20 or more points in her last five games.
“It’s like talking about the sun came up,” Auriemma said. “There’s no more guarantee than what you are going to get from Pheesa every day in practice and every night.”
ECU: The Pirates return home to host Memphis on Saturday afternoon.
UConn: The Huskies head back to campus for a game with Temple on Saturday before hosting No. 12 South Carolina on Monday back in Hartford.