No. 2 UConn obliterates Wichita State in first-ever Koch Arena visit


Joseph Barringhaus

UConn guard Katie Lou Samuelson reaches out for a layup during the game against Wichita State at Charles Koch Arena on Feb. 26, 2019. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).

Wichita State knew what was coming.

It was clear from the get-go, No. 2 UConn, who has never lost an American Athletic Conference game (114-0), would leave its first-ever visit to Charles Koch Arena with a win. What few of the 6,156 in attendance didn’t expect was for Wichita State to have a chance.

Wichita State didn’t plan to win. It planned to show a record organic crowd it could compete.

Joseph Barringhaus
The Wichita State bench celebrates after Sabrina Lozada-Cabbage sinks the first three-point basket during the game against UConn on Feb. 26, 2019 at Charles Koch Arena. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower.)

Sabrina Lozada-Cabbage gave Wichita State an unexpected two-point lead before the Huskies got rolling. Carla Bremaud found Raven Prince under the basket for an easy two-point basket and gave Wichita State a two-point lead. That start meant progress for a program that’s undergone dramatic change in the last two seasons.

That was it before UConn did what most expected them to do. The Huskies went on a 27-0 run before the Shockers turned a basket. That’s normal.

UConn won the game 84-47 — a 37-point victory. That’s typical for the Huskies, who beat opponents by an average of 29 points.

“When those threes started going in, we’re pretty hard to beat,” UConn associate coach Chris Dailey said.

Wichita State improved from a season ago when the Shockers lost 124-43 at UConn. That is the day Wichita State coach Keitha Adams tries to forget. If the loss didn’t do them in, the team’s bus accident in the return trip home surely did.

“From last year, we’ve made a stride,” Adams said.

Joseph Barringhaus
Katie Lou Samuelson scores a three-pointer for the UConn Huskies during the game on Feb. 26 at Charles Koch Arena. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).

Napheesa Collier scored a game-high 32 points. She missed all of two of her 15 shots. Katie Lou Samuelson scored 18 points on what was an off-shooting night, and Crystal Dangerfield scored 14.

Collier is likely candidate for national player of the year.

Dailey said UConn didn’t have near as much strategy against Wichita State as she might have liked. With a one-game history between the two teams, there was considerable uncertainty.

“Wichita was a little bit different for us … There was a little more uncertainty never having been in this building, having played them one time,” Dailey said.

Joseph Barringhaus
The UConn bench celebrates after making a basket during the game against Wichita State on Feb. 26, 2019 at Charles Koch Arena. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).

Wichita State made the game close. The Shockers scored caught fire with short three-pointers and spot up jumpers. It was enough to cut the lead to 20 points in the second half. That’s considerably good up against a powerhouse like UConn.

“It’s interesting, the psychology in sports,” Adams said. “They always think they’re going to win. If you have a team that struggles and haven’t won, there’s the ‘Oh crap, here we go again.’

“We’re in the middle of that.”

Carla Bremaud scored a team-best 15 points for the Shockers. Seraphine Bastin lead with seven rebounds.

UConn played its second game in a row without head coach Geno Auriemma, who was out with a stomach virus.

The Huskies are now 2-0 all-time versus Wichita State.

“It takes a lot of strength to handle a loss, it takes a lot of strength to handle having your tail kicked,” Adams said. “One day, we’ll be out there doing some things on the floor fans will be really fired up about.

“It’s a little glimpse of what we want to do with this program.”

Joseph Barringhaus
A fan holds up a sign during the game against UConn on Feb. 26, 2019 at Charles Koch Arena. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).