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Huskies Gem In Columbia

By PETE IACOBELLI  AP Sports Writer

 

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ Kia Nurse scored 23 points and Katie Lou Samuelson added 20 as No. 1 UConn powered past defending national champ South Carolina 83-58 on Thursday night.

The Huskies opened things up early to lead 53-24 at the half on their way to a 21-0 start for the fourth time in five seasons. They extended their NCAA mark with their 48th straight road win and, if anyone needed more evidence, marked themselves the clear favorite for another NCAA title.

No. 7 South Carolina (18-4) fell to 0-6 all-time against UConn and 0-15 in program history against No. 1 teams.

The Gamecocks had hoped All-American A’ja Wilson, a sellout crowd and a super-charged atmosphere at Colonial Life Arena might rattle the Huskies. Instead it was UConn showing it was more than up to the challenge. Nurse hit two straight threes and Samuelson added one of her own as UConn broke on top 13-4 in the first four minutes.

The Huskies poured it on with a 19-2 start to the second quarter that ended any hopes of a South Carolina surprise.

A brief Gamecocks rally cut a 33-point lead down to 21 in the third quarter, but it was nowhere near enough.

Napheesa Collier had 19 points and five blocks while Gabby Williams had 14 points and 14 rebounds.

Wilson, the two-time defending Southeastern Conference player of the year, struggled from the field, going 4 of 18 for 14 points. She also had 16 rebounds and six blocks. Wilson was recruited hard by UConn before picking the Gamecocks and lost to the Huskies all four of her college seasons.

Freshman Bianca Jackson had a career high 20 points for the Gamecocks.

BIG PICTURE

UConn: The Huskies look too fast, too strong, too talented to have any serious challenges right now. Of course, almost everyone thought that a year ago before Mississippi State stunned the women’s basketball world with its semifinal victory at the Final Four _ a win that set a championship final that South Carolina wound up winning. One thing’s certain, UConn won’t lose if it plays like it did in the opening half the rest of the way.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks’ motivation against UConn has obviously changed since capturing the NCAA crown last April. No longer were the Huskies a barometer of how close South Carolina was to the top of the mountain. Minus three starters from that title squad in Alaina Coates, Allisha Gray and Kaela Davis _ all in the WNBA _ the Gamecocks don’t have the firepower outside of Wilson to stay with Huskies. They’ll get another big test Monday night at No. 2 Mississippi State, a team that went 0-3 against the Gamecocks in 2017 including losses in the SEC Tournament and NCAA Tournament finals.

UP NEXT

UConn returns home to face Cincinnati on Sunday.

South Carolina completes its No. 1-No. 2 double when it takes on second-ranked Mississippi State on Monday night.

 

 

 

 

(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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