UConn Beats ECU, Setting Up Likely 1 vs. 2 Matchup with USC
STORRS, Conn. (AP) Kia Nurse scored a season-high 20 points at top-ranked UConn routed East Carolina 92-46 on Saturday in the Huskies final tuneup before a showdown with No. 2 South Carolina.
Breanna Stewart had added 17 points and 10 rebounds for UConn (22-0, 12-0 American Athletic), which will head to Columbia on Monday with a 59-game winning streak, the third longest in team and NCAA history.
Moriah Jefferson chipped in with 16 points and dished out eight assists.
Jada Payne had 15 points and I’Tiana Taylor scored 12 to lead East Carolina (9-14, 3-8 American), which has lost four straight.
”Jada has been an incredible player for our program,” said East Carolina coach Heather Macy. ”We’re hoping, and feel confident, that she’ll be our first ever WNBA Draft pick. I was really pleased for her.”
UConn never trailed. They scored the game’s first 14 points, led 52-23 at halftime and ended the third quarter on a 19-4 run to lead 80-35 after 30 minutes.
Nurse, who didn’t score during UConn’s 96-38 win at Tulane on Wednesday, hit eight of her 11 shots. The sophomore also made four of her seven from 3-point range.
”When I don’t think as much, I always play better,” she said.
The Huskies shot 55 percent as a team, holding ECU to 38 percent.
A steal and breakaway layup by Stewart in the second quarter gave her 200 steals for her career. She joins Maya Moore as the only Huskies with at least 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 200 assists, 200 steals and 200 blocked shots and is just the seventh woman in Division I to accomplish that feat.
It was Stewart’s 34th career double-double and the 119th in her 140 games at UConn that she has reached double figures.
She also hit all three of her foul shots and now has made 24 straight from the line.
The Pirates turned the ball over 24 times during the game, becoming the eighth straight UConn opponent with at least 20 giveaways
There was a scary moment in the fourth quarter when East Carolina’ Gabby Holston took a shot to the head under the Pirates basket and fell to the floor.
UConn came into the game beating opponents by an average of more than 41 points. Conference opponents have fared worse, losing by more than 49 points.
The game is expected to be much closer on Monday. But in their six games this season against ranked teams, the Huskies’ margin of victory is still 20 points.
Payne, who made seven of her 10 shots, moved into fifth place on the Pirates’ career scoring list with 1,580 points. She passed Debbie Freeman, who scored 1,570 points from 1974-78.
East Carolina become the first opponent to score more than 40 points on UConn in five games.
East Carolina: This was East Carolina’s first regular-season meeting with a No. 1 ranked team since the Pirates played Duke in November 2002. The Pirates are 0-4 against UConn, which was ranked No. 2 during their two regular-season meetings a year ago.
UConn: The Huskies also improved to 54-0 in the history of the American Athletic Conference, including a 48-0 mark in the regular season and 6-0 through two conference tournaments….This was just the Huskies third game at Gampel Pavilion this season. The Huskies have won 90 of their last 92 games at their on-campus home and will play the remainder of their home games in Storrs this season.
East Carolina: The Pirates travel to Texas to take on SMU on Tuesday night.
UConn: The Huskies visit South Carolina for a showdown with the No. 2 Gamecocks on Monday night.