TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Napheesa Collier had 28 points and a big block down the stretch to help No. 3 UConn open its season with a 78-76 win over No. 12 Florida State on Monday night.
Saniya Chong scored 16 points and Katie Lou Samuelson added 14 as the Huskies (1-0) extended their winning streak to 76 games, which is the third-longest streak in college basketball history.
The Seminoles trailed by 65-59, but had a chance to tie it with 13.7 seconds left when Brittany Brown was fouled on a 3-point attempt by Kia Nurse. She made the first two to get within 77-76, but missed the third. The Huskies could not secure the ball and FSU (1-1) retained possession when it went out of bounds.
Shakayla Thomas then drove the lane, but her shot was blocked by Collier. Crystal Dangerfield made the first free throw, but missed the second. Imani Wright missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Wright led Florida State (1-1) with 25 points while Brown added 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Florida State led 34-30 at halftime and led by as many as seven early in the third quarter before the four-time defending champions started chipping away.
UConn’s winning streak sits only behind the team record of 90 straight set from 2008-10 and the UCLA men’s record of 88 consecutive victories.
POST-GAME NOTES BY FSU SPORTS INFORMATION:
• Florida State’s narrow two-point loss to UConn was the Huskies’ thinnest margin of victory by far during their 76-game win streak. Their previous smallest margin were 10-point wins over Notre Dame (2015 National Championship) and vs. Maryland (Dec. 28, 2015).
• For the second consecutive game, FSU had four double-figure scorers in Imani Wright (25 points), Brittany Brown (16), Shakayla Thomas (14) and Ivey Slaughter (12). Those four also had double figures vs. Jacksonville State.
• Brown, a senior guard, assumed point-guard duties for the second straight game with Leticia Romero out with an injury. Brown recorded her fifth double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. She also had a game-high seven assists.
• Wright, who transferred from Baylor, recorded her career high as a collegiate student-athlete with 25 points. Her previous high was 18 points vs. Michigan State on Dec. 12, 2014.
• Both teams combined to shoot 19-of-33 in the fourth period, which FSU outscored the Huskies 29-27 in the final frame.
• FSU’s 33-game non-conference win streak at home was snapped vs. the Huskies. Prior to Monday’s game, FSU had not lost to a non-ACC team on its home floor since Nov. 27, 2011.
• FSU is now 33-2 over its last 35 home games.
• Ivey Slaughter became the 12th Seminole to record 700+ rebounds in a career, now having 701 boards. She finished with seven rebounds.
• The Seminoles totaled 11 assists to just nine turnovers against UConn. It was FSU’s lowest amount of turnovers since recording just eight turnovers vs. Miami on March 8, 2013, in the ACC Tournament.
• FSU out-scored UConn 16-11 in points off turnovers, forcing 17 turnovers.
• The Seminoles registered 12 fast-break points to UConn’s seven.
FLORIDA STATE HEAD COACH SUE SEMRAU
“I obviously wish we were on the other side of this having won, but we got the ball into two really great scorer’s hands at the end of the game in Shakayla Thomas and Imani Wright. Brittany had the presence of mind knowing that was going to happen and go up and get that opportunity. We got that offensive rebound to give ourselves a chance. What a growth process. We didn’t have a good first couple of games but these guys got back in the gym and worked extremely hard. We were all over them on the defensive end. The amount of time they got their hands on the basketball, the deflections, the offensive rebounds, that was the difference in the game. We have a really athletic team and I look forward to going even deeper with Leticia (Romero and our freshmen once they get better on the defensive end on the floor.”
On fighting until the final shot of the game:
“It’s about grit and toughness. I haven’t had a team that has shown this kind of toughness in what? A season? It was really amazing to watch, their transformation. Our first game we didn’t have that. You know obviously when you get a chance to play on this stage, things change and now we’ve got to continue in that same light.”
How encouraged were you after the game by the way the team played?
“These guys were amazing. I think we got really good shots and we’ll work on knocking those down. But the fact that the shots weren’t going in they were still mentally tough and kept fighting. For me that was the difference in the team I had seen up to this point.”
REDSHIRT JUNIOR GUARD IMANI WRIGHT
On having confidence on the floor:
“Just knowing that everyone on the bench is behind me and the team has confidence in me to keep shooting and just knowing that they have my back.”
On encouraging Brittany Brown down the stretch:
“Being in that position for Brittany, I know it’s tough but I wanted her to know that everybody is there for you. We are here for you. We can still fight back. It’s fine. We’re going to be okay and play hard. Just being there and encouraging her to shake it off because we needed to play on.”
SENIOR GUARD BRITTANY BROWN:
What was going through your head on that last free throw?
“As soon as I got that foul, I was just focusing on hitting three of them because we wanted an overtime most likely. When I missed the last one, a lot of different thoughts ran through my head but of course we got the ball back and that was another opportunity to win the game. But my teammates did a great job just giving into me and knowing that they were there for me. I knew I had to snap out of it and give more to them.”
On the energy tonight:
“I think that that is what we deserve honestly. I think that we have worked really hard to get fans in here. To have them in there, they help us, believe it or not in the game. Those defensive possessions when we may not have energy ourselves they give that to us. It does make a difference. I’m just happy to see it’s not just about us out on the court. It’s about us, the band, our community. It means that much more and I think it really does help and I appreciate it a lot.”
UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT HEAD COACH GENO AURIEMMA:
“We kind of knew it was going to be a little bit of a struggle. That whole first half was a huge struggle for us to get anything going. Obviously, the Florida State kids had everything to do with that for the most part. I thought they were incredibly aggressive in every phase of the game. I don’t know if we responded really well in the first half and when we came out in the second half we did a much better job of handling what they were doing. Give a lot of credit to them for how hard they play and how tough they are to play against. Even missing a really good guard (Leticia Romero) like they were, they’re good, they are really really good.”
ON WHAT HE LEARNED ABOUT HIS TEAM:
“When we needed a stop we got one. When we needed a basket we got one. When we had to get a turnover we got one. When we needed to get a blocked shot there at the end we got one. We had a freshman go to the free throw line and make a free throw. A lot of good things came out of it, we will see from there.”
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF PLAYING A CLOSE GAME:
“It is going be like this, that is what we talked about. It will be like this for the next five months. There will be teams that will be overwhelmed with our talent and I get that. But there are an awful lot of teams that we will play this year, this being one of them, that are more athletic than we are. They are a little faster and a little stronger than we are. When was the last time we gave up 76 points? It has been a long time. A lot of the things that we are used to doing, obviously they are going to learn from it. Everybody is going to be giving them their best shot.”
ON THE UPCOMING COMPETITION:
“There will be a lot of teams looking to pay us back for everything that we have done in the last 10 years. This particular team and these kids, some of them are responsible for those and others are not, but they are going to take the brunt of it.”
ON THE LAST TWO MINUTES OF THE GAME:
“That’s what teams that don’t know who does what and Kia Nurse struggled tonight. We had the game at eight and we turned the ball over, we give up a couple of threes that they still had to make but we never do that but we did. I thought we were running the clock down pretty well with the free throws. We didn’t know whom we wanted to foul out. That’s a tough situation to be in. We had so many kids with four fouls that we weren’t going to let them go down to shoot a three. The kid (Brittany Brown) did a nice job of selling it. Give her all the credit for selling it. Not a very smart play by us but we will get better from it.”