Eugene, Ore. — There was no mistaking when top-ranked UConn’s killer instinct started to kick in Saturday.
Michigan State just didn’t expect it to show up so early against the Huskies.
Azura Stevens recorded one of three UConn double-doubles and reached 1,000 points for her career as the top-ranked Huskies beat Michigan State 96-62 at the PK80 Invitational.
Stevens had 25 points and 16 rebounds for the Huskies (5-0), who won their 136th consecutive game against an unranked opponent. Kia Nurse added 20 points for UConn, Napheesa Collier had 14 points and 12 rebounds and Crystal Dangerfield had 10 points and 10 assists.
“There are times during the game when the pace of the game gets to the other team and you can see it,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “We try to look for that time — when does it show itself that the pace is too much for them to handle — and we kind of try to go at another gear.
“We know when we’re in the middle of it, that’s for sure.”
The Huskies built a 46-21 lead at the half by dominating inside with a 30-2 edge in points in the paint, which grew to 56-24 by game’s end. They also had a 46-28 rebounding edge after Michigan State came in leading the nation in rebound average (57.0) and margin (plus-28).
The Spartans missed their first six shots and trailed 16-2 after Collier blocked three of their first nine attempts. UConn scored the first 17 points of the second quarter to go up 36-9.
“The first quarter was all just us rebounding, outletting and going down and shooting the basketball,” Auriemma said. “The second and third quarter was us playing basketball the way we play.”
Sidney Cooks led the Spartans (4-1) with 11 points and eight rebounds off the bench, and Branndais Agee scored 10 points, giving her 1,001 for her career.
After shooting just 8-for-34 in the first half, Michigan State used a strong fourth quarter to improve to 34.3 percent for the game.
However, the Huskies only got hotter in the second half, too, finishing 41 of 72 for 56.9 percent.
“I wasn’t scared of the pace and we had quite a few good looks at the bucket from the arc,” Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant said. “That’s the UConn factor.
“It’s a little bit of that UConn, play-the-front-of-the-jersey mentality. I think some of our kids were a little bit intimidated by that.”
The only glitch for the Huskies came from the 3-point line, where they were 1-for-13 in the first half after shooting 46.9 percent through their first four games. UConn finished 7-for-24 (29.2 percent) beyond the arc.
Auriemma said the credit should go to his guards, Dangerfield and Nurse.
“I think the two of them are doing a great job of controlling the tempo of the game,” he said. “Where the ball goes and how it gets there and making enough shots to keep everybody honest.
“Our guards are really, really good right now.”
More state women
No. 25 Michigan 74, (at) Ohio 61: Katelynn Flaherty scored 31 points, Hallie Thome had 17 points and 13 rebounds, and Michigan used a 25-15 fourth quarter to beat Ohio.
Michigan only led 49-46 at the end of the third quarter but opened the fourth on a 10-0 run — with six straight from Flaherty to start it. She also found Thome for a transition layup and capped the run with a pair of free throws.
Jillian Dunston added nine points and 14 boards for Michigan (4-1), which outrebounded Ohio 50-31. Flaherty was 10 of 22 from the field as Michigan shot 45.5 percent. The Wolverines have only lost to No. 4 Louisville and will play sixth-ranked Notre Dame on Wednesday.
Thome faced her twin sister Hannah in the game. The Ohio reserve had six points in 13 minutes.
Central Michigan 81, Iowa State 60: At Bimini, Bahamas, Presley Hudson scored 23, Cassie Breen 22 and Tinara Moore 15 for Central (4-1). Bridget Carleton scored 19 for Iowa State (3-2).
(At) Loyola Marymount: 73, Eastern Michigan 64: Cheyanne Wallace scored 22 and Bree Alford 15 for Loyola Marymount (6-0). Sasha Dailey scored 17 and Courtnie Lewis and Danielle Minott 16 each for Eastern (2-4).
Rutgers 75, Western Michigan 64: Breanna Mobley had 26 points and 12 rebounds and Marley Hill scored 14 for Western Michigan (2-4) during the second day of the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Florida. Rutgers outscored Western Michigan 24-12 in the third quarter to take control and hand the Broncos their third straight loss.
Northern Michigan 63, (at) Bellarmine 55
Southern Indiana 53, (at) Grand Valley State 44
Augustana (SD) 100, Lake Superior St. 61
Michigan Tech 83, Concordia (St.P) 76
(At) Bluffton 86, Kalamazoo 70
Calvin 73, (at) Carleton 61
Concordia (Mich.) 66, Michigan-Dearborn 49
Concordia (Wis.) 64, Lakeland 49