STORRS - Azura Stevens came off the bench to score 22 points and lead top-ranked UConn to a closer-than-expected 78-60 win over Tulsa on Thursday night.
Napheesa Collier had 19 points and Kia Nurse added 17 for the Huskies (17-0, 6-0 American Athletic Conference) who have never lost in the conference. UConn has won 76 straight regular-season games and all four conference tournaments.
Shug Dickson had 17 points and Erica Wakefield scored 13 to lead Tulsa (8-11, 2-4), which had lost each of their previous seven games to the Huskies by an average of just under 49 points.
Tulsa took an early 9-6 lead on a 3-pointer from Dickson and led for just over two minutes of the first quarter. But a steal and breakaway layup by Gabby Williams capped a 16-0 run and UConn led 26-11 after 10 minutes.
UConn has had a very short bench this season, with just Stevens and the five starters seeing action in Monday’s 75-71 road win over No. 9 Texas.
But Geno Auriemma went to his reserves early in this one, starting the second quarter with five backups.
Bench players not named Stevens were 0 of 9 from the floor in the first half, and the Huskies led 42-27 at halftime.
Despite having the starters back in, UConn outscored Tulsa just 21-19 in the third quarter and Dickson’s fifth 3-pointer brought Tulsa to within 70-60 with just over five minutes left. The Huskies closed things out with an 8-0 run.
Katie Lou Samuelson, who has had some vision problems and a black left eye after taking an elbow to the face against Texas, played just 15 minutes, scoring three points and hitting one of her five shots.
THE BIG PICTURE:
UConn: The win was the Huskies’ 146th straight against an unranked opponent and 190th in a row against an opponent with a losing record. That streak dates to Jan. 27, 1993, when the Huskies lost by six to a 7-8 Villanova squad.
Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane have used 13 starting lineups this season and Thursday went back to one they had used just once - in the season opener.
Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane visit Tulane on Sunday.
UConn: The Huskies travel to Philadelphia to take on Temple on Sunday.