STORRS, Conn. — Connecticut’s Kia Nurse heard the boasts from Syracuse that it would bring the best backcourt in America into Monday night’s second-round rematch of last year’s national championship game.
She used that as motivation.
The junior guard scored 29 points and tied an NCAA Tournament record with nine three-pointers to lead UConn to a 94-64 victory over the Orange.
The boasting “allows you to play with a bit of a chip on your shoulder,” she said. “For us, we like to prove it with the way that we play.”
Nurse hit 10 of her 13 shots, missing three attempts from behind the arc for the Huskies, who won for the 109th consecutive time and 26th in a row in the NCAA Tournament. That streak includes last April’s 82-51 victory over the Orange that gave the Huskies their fourth consecutive title.
Gabby Williams and Katie Lou Samuelson each added 23 points and Napheesa Collier chipped in with 17 points for UConn (34-0), which led by as many as 36 points.
The Huskies shot 62 percent from the floor, 52 percent from 3-point range and had 30 assists on their 33 baskets.
Alexis Peterson had 25 points to lead Syracuse (22-11). Backcourt mate Brittney Sykes added 15 and Briana Day had 13 for the Orange.
UConn held Syracuse without a field goal for more than 3 ½ minutes early in the first quarter and used a 9-0 run to build an 18-7 lead.
The Huskies hit 12 of their first 18 shots and led 28-11 after a fast-break bucket at the first-quarter buzzer by Crystal Dangerfield.
A three-pointer by Nurse gave UConn its first 20-point advantage at 31-11 and another three-pointer…
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