Road trip not quite the test UConn women wanted
The two-game road trip was supposed to present a midseason challenge to the UConn women’s basketball team.
Instead, it just reaffirmed the Huskies’ place as the nation’s No. 1 team.
After opening Big East Conference play with a 50-point victory at Villanova on Thursday, UConn pieced together another lopsided win Sunday afternoon.
The Huskies steamrolled Purdue 100-50 before a crowd of 9,618 at Mackey Arena.
“The games were back-to-back, and I can’t speak for everyone but I’m tired,” senior Brittany Hunter said. “I was proud of everybody. They played with a lot of intensity.”
Questions about how the Huskies would handle road games in hostile environments were answered over the last four days. Sunday’s crowd was the largest UConn has faced away from home this season.
“That was one of the questions that we wanted to answer and we did,” coach Geno Auriemma said.
UConn started the game with an 11-0 spurt, which eventually grew to 29-4 during the first 10 minutes.
“They shut the crowd up immediately,” Purdue coach Sharon Versyp said. “This is the toughest place they’ve played in terms of fan support.
“They love that. That’s why they love to come to Purdue because of our attendance. They know how to get it done. They’re on a mission right now.”
Freshman Maya Moore, who scored all of her 13 points in the first half, was mindful that Purdue hadn’t scored a basket through the first 10 minutes.
“We were trying to keep it that way,” Moore said.
The Boilermakers didn’t make a field goal until a layup by freshman Samantha Woods with 9:06 left until halftime.
Sophomore Meghan Gardler scored a career-high 14 points in 11 minutes off the bench.
The Springfield, Pa., native was 5-of-5 from the field, including 2-of-2 from 3-point range. Gardler was one five players in double figures.
“We wished she played like that when she was at home in Philadelphia,” Hunter said of Thursday’s game at Villanova. “She’s one that really accepts her role.”
Against Villanova, Gardler made 1-of-6 field goals but did grab seven rebounds in 16 minutes.
“Meghan is one of those unique individuals in that she’s so slow that people mistake that they can do things against her,” Auriemma said.
“She’s always in the right place at the right time,” he added.“She’s a better offensive player than what she’s proven up to this point. I don’t know where this is going to lead, but I’ve always liked Meg and I liked her a lot more today than I did yesterday.”
Junior Cassie Kerns grew up in Valparaiso, Ind., which is about 90 minutes north of West Lafayette.
The 6-3 Kerns had plenty of family and friends in attendance for Sunday’s game. Kerns had a career-high six points and added two assists in six minutes.
“Who doesn’t want to play well, especially when your family is the audience?” Auriemma said.
This and that
Mel Thomas didn’t score for the first time this season, going 0-of-6 from the field, missing all four 3-point attempts. ... UConn has won the last three meetings against Purdue.