^By PAT EATON-ROBB=
^AP Sports Writer=
STORRS, Conn. (AP) _ UConn had a hard time finding its outside shot on Sunday, so the Huskies looked inside to Napheesa Collier.
The 6-foot-1 sophomore scored 24 points and pulled down nine rebounds to lead the four-time defending national champions to their 97th consecutive win, 96-50 over Tulsa.
She hit 10 of her 13 shots from the floor in reaching the 20-point plateau for the 12th time this season.
“That’s one of the good things about our team is that if we’re missing from the outside, we can go to our inside game a little more and that’s what I tried to do today,” Collier said.
Saniya Chong added 17 points, seven assists and seven rebounds for the Huskies (22-0, 10-0 American Athletic Conference), who have now won 124 straight games against unranked opponents.
All five UConn starters scored in double figures. Katie Lou Samuelson, who has reached double digits in every game this season, had 16 points. Kia Nurse had 14 and Gabby Williams chipped in with 10.
Both teams struggled from the outside in the first half. UConn made just one of its first 12 attempts from 3-point range and Tulsa was 1 of 9.
The Huskies were just 7 of 21 from the field in the first quarter and led by only five points after 10 minutes.
“There is nothing you can do about that except say, `All right, let’s go to the one guy who is making a lot of shots,”’ said UConn coach Geno Auriemma. “So, when we found something that was working, we just started going in that direction.”
UConn opened the second quarter on a 20-4 run to break the game open. Collier had 17 points and eight rebounds by halftime, and UConn led 40-23.
Samuelson had 10 points in the third quarter, after hitting just three of her first 14 shots and the Huskies extended the lead to 69-34.
The Huskies dominated underneath, outscoring Tulsa 48-16 in the paint.
Freshman Shug Dickson had 12 points to lead the Golden Hurricane (8-15, 4-6). She had 21 in the first meeting between the two teams, a 98-58 UConn win last month in Oklahoma.
“We felt like after what Shug did the first time that she would be defended tougher,” said Tulsa coach Matlida Mossman. “They had Collier on her a little bit, they had Kia on her a little bit and we couldn’t really get anything. Even when we would hand off and force them to switch, she couldn’t get by Chong. Defensively they did a great job on her.”
UConn: The Huskies have won 185 straight games against teams with a losing record. The last time they lost such a game was in 1993 when the Huskies were defeated by a 7-8 Villanova team. The last time the Huskies were beaten by anyone outside the Top 25 was Feb. 18, 2012, a 57-56 defeat to St. John’s. The Huskies have won 300 of their last 301 games against unranked opposition.
Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane were coming off a 100-point scoring night against East Carolina, but shot just 37 percent from the field and were held 16 points below their season average. Tulsa came in averaging just over seven made 3-pointers a game. They were 5 of 21 against the Huskies.
STAT OF THE GAME
UConn shot 56.5 percent for the game after its cold start. The Huskies hit seven of their final 11 shots from 3-point range and made 24 of their 33 shots from the field in the second half (73 percent).
UConn is now 73-0 in conference play since the formation of the American Athletic Conference play and 64-0 in the regular season.
UConn: The Huskies go for No. 98 in a row when they travel to Cincinnati on Tuesday to take on former UConn assistant coach Jamelle Elliott and the Bearcats. They host SMU on Saturday in a final tune-up before hosting No. 4 South Carolina on Feb. 13.
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