Top-ranked UConn wins 65th straight, 80-40 over Tulane
STORRS, Conn. (AP) UConn turned to a freshman after a rough start for the stars it honored on senior day.
Katie Lou Samuelson scored 21 points and the Huskies came back from an early 11-point deficit Saturday to rout Tulane 80-40.
UConn honored Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck before the game. But the trio went a combined 5-of-24 from the field in the first half.
The Huskies trailed 13-2 early and 13-8 after a quarter.
''It got to a point where I was like, `I don't know what is happening,'' Stewart said. ''Everything felt good and the shot either went in and out or missed completely. I think maybe it's a curse for players who play on senior day.''
Stewart hit just two of her first 12 shots, but was 4 for 4 in the second half. She scored 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Huskies (28-0, 17-0 American), who extended the third longest winning streak in program and women's NCAA history to 65 games.
It was the 37th double-double of her career and her 12th this season.
Kolby Morgan had 19 points for Tulane (19-10, 10-6), which was outscored 72-27 over the final three quarters.
UConn missed its first 12 shots, including three by Samuelson. But the Huskies took their first lead at 17-16 in the second quarter when she hit a 3-pointer. It was 36-20 at the half after she buried two more, the second at the buzzer.
Her sixth 3-pointer allowed her to tie her season-high point total for a second consecutive game. It gave the Huskies a 51-24 lead in the third quarter.
''I just go into games knowing that I need to do whatever my team needs me to do to win,'' she said. ''Today they really needed me to step up and to hit shots.''
The 11-point deficit was the largest for UConn this season and the first time the Huskies were down by double digits since trailing Notre Dame by 10 points in South Bend in December, 2014.
''Sometimes you get seniors who come here (on senior day) and they just play the best game of the year,'' coach Geno Auriemma said. ''Then you get others who get here and they let it get to them. They let the emotions get to them.''
Tulane coach Lisa Stockton said her team also had something to do with the first-quarter score and played with much more confidence than in a 96-38 loss to UConn earlier this month in New Orleans.
''I feel like they knew that they could play better,'' she said. ''We weren't in there for all that (senior day festivities). The nice thing for us is that we were able to just get on the court and play basketball.''
The Huskies outscored Tulane 28-12 in the paint and forced 21 turnovers.
Jefferson had five assists and now has 603 assists and 333 steals. She joins former national player of the year Jennifer Rizzotti as the only UConn players to record 600 assists and 300 steals in a career. Rizzotti finished her career with 637 assists and 349 steals.
UConn's seniors are 141-5 over their four seasons. If they go on to win a fourth straight national championship, they will break the record for wins by a single class with 151. Maya Moore's class, which graduated in 2011 had 150 wins.
UConn also added plaques for Jefferson and Stewart to the school's ''Huskies of Honor'' wall, which now includes 18 women's players who have been first-team All Americans.
Tuck lost most of her sophomore season to a knee injury and is technically a red-shirt junior. She has not announced if she will return next season or make herself available for April's WNBA draft, where she is projected as a top-five pick.
Tulane needs one more win to earn a seventh straight 20-win season. They came into Saturday tied for fourth place in the conference, but would be the fifth seed in the upcoming American Athletic Conference Tournament if they remain tied with Memphis after Monday.
Morgan has scored 19 or more points in her last seven games. She was 8 of 16 from the floor against the Huskies.
UConn: Stewart has scored in double figures in every game this season and has now scored 10 or more points in 125 games, moving her into 13th place in NCAA Division I women's basketball history when it comes to double-figure scoring efforts... Chris Dailey, UConn's associate head coach, also was added to the ''Huskies of Honor'' wall. She has been with Geno Auriemma for all 31 seasons, 945 wins and 10 national titles.
Tulane: The Green Wave close the regular season at home Monday against Cincinnati
UConn: The Huskies host No. 21 South Florida on Monday.