- Associated Press - Sunday, December 11, 2016

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - Connecticut only managed to make two big runs against Kansas State on Sunday.

It took both of them to win.

Katie Lou Samuelson scored 26 points, Napheesa Collier had 22 and the top-ranked Huskies rode the momentum of a 17-0 surge in the first half and a 10-0 charge in the second to a 75-58 victory over the Wildcats at sold-out Bramlage Coliseum.

Samuelson hit six 3-pointers and Kia Nurse added 13 points for the Huskies (9-0), who ran their winning streak to 84 straight games, six shy of their 90-game stretch from 2008-10. It was also their 27th consecutive road win.

“We passed the ball to Lou a lot, so that always helps, when you pass it to Katie Lou,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said, trying to explain the game-changing runs that pushed his team to victory.

“We were able to get out in transition and get Kansas State’s defense moving before they could settle into a defense,” Auriemma said. “That was the game plan. And in the first quarter, we forced some turnovers, we rebounded the ball, ran our transition game, and our players are very good at finding Katie Lou.”

Breanna Lewis had 18 points for the Wildcats (9-1), who were off to their best start since 2008.

“I definitely had jitters. I’ve never had an opportunity to play in front of so many people,” said Karyla Middlebrook, who scored 11 for Kansas State. “But I don’t use that as an excuse for the two early turnovers I had. You have to turn those jitters into positive energy to help the team.”

Kansas State actually led 4-2 in the opening minutes before UConn ripped off a 17-0 charge that forced Kansas State coach Jeff Mittie to burn two timeouts. Samuelson did most of the damage, knocking down three 3-pointers, as the Wildcats missed seven consecutive field-goal attempts.

“They move the ball better than any team in the country,” Mittie said. “They do a great job of getting the basketball to Lou, she has a great high release and she’s a great shooter.”

The Wildcats finally got things under control, and even made a charge of their own to get within 45-31 at the break. But when they closed to 51-40 on a 3-pointer by Kaylee Page with about seven minutes left in the third quarter, the Huskies answered with 10 straight points.

That spurt, along with their big first-quarter run, was too much for Kansas State to overcome.

UConn shot nearly 50 percent from the field (30 of 61) and had a big advantage on the boards, while the Wildcats struggled to deal with the Huskies’ pressure. They turned it over 16 times.

“I thought our group in the third quarter created some turnovers, created some opportunities,” Mittie said. “Unfortunately we missed some opportunities to get it to single digits.”


“When I heard it was sold-out,” Auriemma said, “I thought, ‘That’s the way it’s supposed to be. They have a really good team, we’ve never been out this way before. So you know what? We’re going to go in there and it’s going to be an unbelievable environment.’”


UConn proved again that its depth isn’t an issue, only playing six while building its commanding lead early in the game. The Huskies left Saniya Chong at home after she took an elbow during their win over Notre Dame and experienced concussion-like symptoms. “Hopefully she’ll be OK,” Auriemma said.

Kansas State appeared to let its nerves win in the first quarter, when turnovers and poor shooting conspired to put the Wildcats in a 25-8 hole. But they also showed some composure in battling back, which is sure to encourage Mittie as he continues to build the program.


UConn heads back to the XL Center to play No. 12 Ohio State on Dec. 19.

Kansas State wraps its three-game homestand against Princeton next Sunday.

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