The No. 1-ranked UConn Huskies improved to 26-1 on 15-0 in the American Athletic Conference with a 92-46 victory over Tulsa (14-12, 9-6 The American) Saturday afternoon in front of 3,568 fans at the Donald W. Reynolds Center.
Tulsa stayed close through the first 11 minutes of the game, but the nine-time national champions pulled away for its 26th consecutive win and improved to 24-0 when winning by at least 20 points. UConn scored 44 of its points in the paint and had 27 points off of turnovers, while shooting 56-percent from the field and 41-percent from three-point range.
Kelsee Grovey and Ashley Clark led Tulsa with 13 points apiece. The reigning national player of the year Breanna Stewart had game-highs of 28 points and nine rebounds in 27 minutes for the Huskies. Four more players scored in double-figures for UConn with 17 points from Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Moriah Jefferson and Kia Nurse with 12 each, and Saniya Chong with 11 points.
Tulsa managed to shoot just 34-percent from the field and connected on just 3-of-18 three-pointers, as all three came from Grovey in the first half.
“First of all, I just want to say I am not disappointed with our team. I think our team grinded it out, I thought we played hard, I thought we never gave up, and for that I am excited,” said Tulsa Head Coach Matilda Mossman. “They didn't do anything different to us than they have done to teams in our conference all year long. Again, I'm just excited that our guys played as hard as we did. Man to man, we just aren't as talented as they are, but I thought our kids played hard.”
Leading by 35 at halftime, UConn scored the first four points of the second half and held a 40+ margin for the final 13 minutes of the contest, grabbing its largest lead of 50 points at the 2:54 mark.
Tulsa jumped out to a 6-4 lead at the 18:42 mark on two Grovey three-pointers, but the Huskies scored the next 19 points to take a 23-6 lead with 14:01 left in the first half. Mariah Turner's jumper stopped the drought for the Hurricane.
The Hurricane pulled to within nine points in the first half when Antoinet Webster connected on a jumper in the key at the 11:11 mark to make the score 25-16. Tulsa got as close as seven points, 28-21, with 8:54 remaining in the first 20 minutes.
UConn went on a 12-0 run over the next 3:30 to make the score 40-21 at the 5:07 mark before Tulsa would score again to make is 40-23 at the 4:50 mark on a Clark layup.
The Huskies closed out the first half by scoring the final 18 points as Stewarts' three-pointer from the top of the key made the halftime score 58-23.
In the first half, Grovey led the Hurricane with 11 points, while UConn's Stewart had 23 points and six rebounds, followed by Mosqueda-Lewis' 15 points. The Huskies outscored Tulsa 24 to 6 in the paint and had 17 points off of nine Hurricane turnovers.
Tulsa goes on the road for a Tuesday night game at Memphis (Feb. 24) before returning to the Reynolds Center next Saturday, Feb. 28 to close out the home season against the Tulane Green Wave in a 2:00 p.m. game. Tulsa closes out the regular season at Cincinnati on Monday, March 2.