No. 2 UConn uses rally in fourth to beat St John’s 65-55
ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands — UConn coach Geno Auriemma has warned his players about expecting every game to be a blowout.
That’s what the second-ranked Huskies ran into Friday night, having to rally in the fourth quarter against pesky St. John’s for a 65-55 victory at the Paradise Jam tournament.
Katie Lou Samuelson scored 19 points, Napheesa Collier added 17 points and Crystal Dangerfield 14 for UConn (4-0), which survived a challenge from the Red Storm to extend their regular-season winning streak to 119 games.
“There should be more interesting games for us as the season goes on,” Auriemma said. “Not every game is going to be us scoring 100 and the other team scores 50, and we all live happily ever after. Some games are going to be a struggle.
“But if you’re going to be a championship kind of team, you’ve got to win all kinds of games. We just as easily could’ve lost that game as won that game, but we made some big, big, big plays the last five minutes. That was the difference in the game.”
Tiana England scored 13 points, Alisha Kebbe added 12 points, Kadaja Bailey 11 and Oadashah Hoppie 10 for St. John’s (3-1), which led by as many as six points in the first quarter, and battled the Huskies through five lead changes and four ties in the second half.
The Red Storm’s last lead came in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, when Bailey made back-to-back layups for a 51-47 margin with 9:18 left.
However, the Huskies responded with 3-pointers from Dangerfield and Samuelson, the last giving UConn a 53-51 lead with 7:15 remaining. That ignited an 18-4 run to close out the game.
“Through the game, our goal was to try to control the pace and tempo as much as best we could, and defensively try to keep them at bay from the things they’re really good at – which is a lot of things,” St. John’s head coach Joe Tartamella said.
“We did a great job of scoring the ball in those quarters, along with making it difficult for them for score. We kept the game where it was strikeable, and had the lead. The end of the game, two guys made shots who hadn’t made them, and they made plays.”
UConn: The Huskies’ regular-season winning streak continues, dating to the second game of the 2014-2015 season, an overtime loss to Stanford.
St. John’s: The Red Storm have now lost three straight against UConn, which leads the series 41-17. St. John’s last win in the series came on Feb. 18, 2012, a 57-56 victory. That was the last time the Huskies lost to an unranked opponent.
STATS OF THE DAY
UConn’s defense held St. John’s to 28.6 percent shooting (4 of 14) in the fourth quarter, and 2 of 12 during the game-ending run.
The Huskies have two more games to go – Friday’s tournament finale vs. Purdue, and DePaul on Nov. 28 — before their highly-anticipated No. 1 vs. No. 2 meeting against defending NCAA champion in South Bend, Ind., on Dec. 2.
UConn: The Huskies face Purdue on Friday.
St. John’s: The Red Storm play Mississippi on Friday.