ESTERO, Fla. (AP) – UCONN wasn’t slowed by a slow start.
Once the Huskies got their fast break going, Wisconsin-Green Bay was no match for the defending national champions.
Moriah Jefferson had 19 points and Breanna Stewart added 17 for No. 3 UCONN in an 89-53 victory Sunday night in the championship game of the Gulf Coast Showcase.
Tournament MVP Kia Nurse scored 16, all in the first half.
The Huskies (5-1) now have won 56 straight games when playing in regular-season tournaments.
“For us to score that many on them tonight is a lot,” UCONN coach Geno Auriemma said. “It happened quickly and it came from a lot of different angles. That’s what good teams do.”
Mehryn Kraker scored 12 and Tesha Buck had 10 points for UW-Green Bay (5-2).
“You can’t make mistakes against them,” UW-Green Bay coach Kevin Borseth said. “You have no margin for error. None.”
UW-Green Bay started out as if it didn’t want to be on the losing end of another UCONN rout. The Huskies beat the College of Charleston 85-24 and Vanderbilt 91-52.
In the first couple of possessions, the Phoenix got long rebounds off missed shots and opened a 9-3 lead.
Then came the runs.
First, UCONN took the lead with a 10-0 run. Green Bay tied it at 26 on Mariah Monke’s 3-pointer with 5:32 left in the first half.
The Huskies ran off 11 straight points and led at halftime 37-26.
The difference in the first half: UCONN had a 14-3 edge in points off turnovers.
“For the most part, I think we hit people first,” Jefferson said. “That’s we we have to continue to do.”
UCONN opened the second half with a 14-2 run and cruised the rest of the way.
UCONN: The Huskies shot 50.8 percent from the floor (30 for 59) and made 21 of 22 free throws. They also had a 42-26 rebound advantage.
Green Bay: After taking just four 3-pointers in a win over Arizona State, UW-Green Bay took 30 against UCONN. The Phoenix made nine.
“We weren’t surprised they’d take a bunch,” Auriemma said. “They’re a great 3-point shooting team. It wasn’t gonna be easy to score against us inside. I don’t know if they thought they couldn’t trade 2s with us.
“I think we rushed them a bit,” he said. “Their legs gave out there a little bit. It happened a lot in the second half.”
UW-Green Bay has 37 straight winning seasons. UCONN has 28 straight winning seasons. Auriemma has 886 wins while Borseth has 584 victories.
A total of 10,381 fans attended UCONN’s three games at Germain Arena, most of them Huskies fans. It’s about 1,200 miles from Storrs, Connecticut. to Estero. In contrast, a total of 9,012 fans attended the three Florida Gulf Coast men’s games at Germain Arena earlier in the week. FGCU’s campus is just four miles from the arena.
ESTERO, Fla. (GreenBayPhoenix.com) – Jumping out of the gates with a 15-0 lead and holding Florida Gulf Coast (5-1) to just 27.3 percent shooting from the field, Green Bay (4-1) led wire-to-wire on Wednesday night and posted a 59-45 victory in the championship game of the Gulf Coast Showcase at Germain Arena.
Green Bay was the home team on the scoreboard in the neutral site event, but the Phoenix played in a hostile environment just three miles from Florida Gulf Coast’s campus. From the opening tip-off, that didn’t matter for head coach Brian Wardle’s team.
“I could tell all day long that we had a bounce in our step and were ready to go,” Wardle said. “I told the team before the game, ‘we’ve been tested already. Now let’s go out there and throw the first punch.’”
Senior Keifer Sykes (Chicago, Ill.) scored the game’s first basket to fuel the 15-0 start, and the All-American candidate continued to set the tone throughout the tournament and the game. Sykes finished with a game-high 19 points and added five rebounds, five assists and three steals. The senior was named the tournament most valuable player after averaging 17 points, six rebounds and 4.8 assists.
FGCU closed to 15-5, but senior Greg Mays (Chicago, Ill.) scored on a jumper and Sykes drained a triple to extend the lead back to 20-7.
Sykes was whistled for his second foul at the 4:47 mark with Green Bay leading 25-15, and FGCU immediately took advantage and closed the deficit to 25-20 at the 3:07 mark. The Phoenix defense stifled the Eagles until intermission, and led 26-20 at the break.
A third foul on Sykes came just 35 seconds into the second half, but Wardle left his point guard in the game and he scored the next four points. Two Mays free throws put Green Bay up 32-20, and moments later threw down a dunk in the lane.
Mays finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds for his fourth career double-double, and after the game joined Sykes on the all-tournament team. Mays averaged 12.7 points and 6.3 rebounds in the team’s three wins.
The lead was at least nine points the rest of the way as the Phoenix completed an impressive run to the tournament trophy. During the run, the Phoenix held its opponents to 34 percent shooting (52-153) from the field and 28.6 percent from the three-point line (14-49).
Green Bay returns home on Monday, hosting Minnesota-Duluth at 7 p.m. at the Resch Center.