PHILADELPHIA, PA. 1/21/2017 – The top ranked Connecticut Huskies visited a sold out McGonigle Hall to meet the Temple Owls. It shows not everybody in the city was micro-focused on the Eagles game later in the afternoon. At the start this game brought an air of excitement, a buzz, but at the end of the day it was Connecticut 113 – 57 showing why they are number one. The score doesn’t indicate it, but the Owls showed heart and did improve.
“This is a great opportunity to play against the very best,” Temple Coach Tonya Cardoza said about facing the Huskies. “Freshman competing against the best players in the country, you want to go out there and compete. We did. We competed the best we could. I felt that we tried to give everything we had. Even though the score doesn’t indicate it, there were some positives that came out of it. Hopefully, we grew.”
Temple started well, but did not have an answer to Connecticut’s balance. The Huskies were playing without leading scorer Katie Lou Samuelson and other players had minor injuries. Once UConn got settled in the defense and the offense looked like, well, UConn. The Huskies shot 63.8% for the game, and from inside the arc it was 32 of 56 (57.1%). The team had 25 assists on 44 baskets.
“We always try to have a good balance inside and outside,” said Connecticut Coach Geno Auriemma. “The points were coming from a lot of different areas. We didn’t rely too much on threes and pounding it inside. We had good balance. We have a team that shares the ball and that is generally who we are.”
The Owls trailed 56 – 32 at halftime. The dreaded knockout was in progress by the first media timeout when Connecticut started the third quarter on an 18 – 4 run.
“You have to admire Temple the way they started the game and they competed until they couldn’t,” Auriemma said.
The Cherry and White were led by freshman Mia Davis who scored a team-high 19 points making 7 of 11 from the floor. Tanaya Atkinson added 15 points.
“I tried to be aggressive and look for my shot,” said Davis.
The Huskies had 6 players score in double figures topped by Kia Nurse with 24 points and Megan Walker contributing 22 points and 5 assists. Gabby Williams, Azura Stevens, Crystal Dangerfield, and Napheesa Collier scored in double-digits. Williams set a career-high handing out 11 assists. Collier grabbed a game-high 8 boards.
UConn continued their many streaks. They have won 10 straight over the Cherry and White, and posted 114 straight true road wins.
The Owls look forward to a city game on Wednesday night against Penn. The winner will play for a share of the Big Five championship. Temple is looking for continued growth.
“We’ve been harping on what we need to do, and in that first half it was better than it has been,” said Cardoza about building off the defensive end. “Yes, the score may not indicate it, but the attempt to do things we haven’t done in the past, I am encouraged by that and hope for it to carry over. If you can force the extra passes, it means we have grown.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian