Preseason: UConn routs Lubbock Christian 95-39

HARTFORD, Conn. – UConn seniors Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson began their quest for a historic fourth national championship in a row with a 95-39 victory over visiting Lubbock Christian in a preseason game before 6,233 fans at the XL Center.

Stewart led all scorers with 25 points on 10-for-12 shooting, including a perfect 3-for-3 from the three-point arc. Jefferson added 15 points on 7-for-11 shooting, including a seven-point run to start the third quarter.

Overall it was a solid warm-up for the defending champions. Returning sophomores Kia Nurse and Gabby Williams showed improvement in their skills. Nurse scored 18 points including an array of bank shots, while Williams racked up a double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds in only 25 minutes of action.

“I’ve seen it all in exhibition games,” commented Auriemma. “It’s the first time you’re actually out there playing. I thought our effort was pretty good. What we’ve been working on looked pretty good. Gabby (Williams) came in and played great. She’s a completely different player than she was this time last year. That was really encouraging. And Kia Nurse. That’s exactly how Kia practices. I’d say that those two, for sure, brought what they’ve been doing on the practice court to the game.”

The game also marked the debut of two-thirds of UConn’s heralded freshman class. Katie Lou Samuelson started for UConn and played a team high 34 minutes. She finished with eight points that included two three-pointers. She also earned four rebounds. Napheesa Collier showed high energy on both ends, scoring five points, pulling down seven rebounds and dishing three assists in her 23 minutes. DeJanae Boykin sat. She is recovering from an Achilles injury.

“It was kind of a typical exhibition game,” said UConn head coach Geno Auriemma. “We’re playing for the first time. We were probably a little nervous. I thought the first seven to eight minutes were choppy. I thought the third quarter we played really well. We have a long way to go. You can see how we’re just not quite there yet, which is good. You don’t want to look like you’re there in the first exhibition game.”

Lubbock Christian, who brought with them a boisterous travel party to cheer them on, were led by seniors Nicole Hampton with 11 points and eight rebounds, and Kelsey Hoppel with seven points and five rebounds.

“They came a long way,” said Auriemma about the team from West Texas. “They played the other night and scored a lot of points. They played with a disregard for who they were playing, they just played, and that was great. Their fans were great. That’s a long way for them to travel and they did. It was way better than a lot of exhibitions games we’ve had.”

UConn faces NAIA-power Vanguard (Costa Mesa, CA) in another preseason contest on Tuesday, Nov. 8. The regular season for the Huskies begins on the road on Monday, Nov. 16 at Ohio State at 5:30 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on ESPN 2.

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