The University of Minnesota weathered a 12-0, first-quarter hole in Saturday’s game against second-ranked Connecticut. The Huskies’ 16-0 run to start the second half was too much.
Christyn Williams scored a game-high 31 points and UConn shot 62.3 percent from the field in an overwhelming 88-58 victory in the first game of the Battle 4 Atlantis at Paradise Island Bahamas on Saturday.
Sara Scalia scored 15 first-half points on 5-of-6 3-point shooting to help Minnesota (3-2) overcome the Huskies’ game-opening 12-0 run and cut the Gophers’ deficit to 31-30 in the second quarter. But UConn responded with a 16-5 run to take a 47-35 lead into intermission.
“I thought there were moments where we hung and played tough and did some good things,” Gophers coach Lindsay Whalen said. “But that third quarter was really tough. They came out and (with) just length made it really difficult for us to execute on the offensive end, and defensively they found some holes.”
The Gophers have two more games in the holiday tournament starting Sunday. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. CST.
“We still have two games here,” Whalen said. “We’ll get some rest and come back ready to play tomorrow.”
Reigning Player of Year Paige Bueckers, a sophomore from Hopkins, was held to three first-half points and finished with eight. But UConn (2-0) has many more weapons. Williams scored 21 first-half points, and Evina Westbrook finished with 16 points.
“It’s not about one player or one person, it’s about team defense,” Whalen said. “We wanted to make it tough for Paige to play but we wanted to make it tough on all their players, then Williams comes out and does what she does.
“She was unbelievable. I look at her stat line and can’t say enough good things about her.”
Williams was 12 for 14 from the field, 3 of 4 from beyond the arc and added four rebounds and three assists against just one turnover in a game-high 31 minutes.
Bueckers had eight assists and no turnovers and the Huskies shot 62.3% from the field (33 for 53), including 76% (10 for 13) in a third quarter they started with a 16-0 run to open a 63-35 lead with 4:44 left in the frame. Kadi Sissoko’s basketball off her own miss broke the Gophers’ scoring drought with 4:09 left.
Dorka Juhasz’s layup with 35 seconds left in the quarter put the Huskies up 72-41 before Laura Bagwell Katalinich scored inside with 8 seconds left.
Scalia, a junior off guard from Stillwater, was held to one basket in the second half and finished with a team-high 17 points. Sissoko finished with 10 points and a team-high four rebounds. UConn beat Minnesota on the boards, 34-19.