MEMPHIS, Tenn.- The top-ranked Connecticut Huskies are banged up and arrived late for their sixth game away from home this month.
They ran into a team facing even bigger issues with injuries limiting Memphis to just six healthy players.
Napheesa Collier scored 19 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and UConn routed Memphis 93-36 Wednesday to remain undefeated.
“On these days, you have to have even more focus because it's a quick turnaround,” Collier said. “We got here late, and it's easy for our minds to wander and not be watching the game. It takes even more effort to lock in on what we need to do and execute it.”
The Huskies have their issues too. Gabby Williams is playing with a sore hip, Crystal Dangerfield can't practice with shin splints, Katie Lou Samuelson returned from a sprained ankle that kept her out of Sunday's win at Temple.
UConn (19-0, 8-0 American Athletic Conference) did just that, trailing only briefly in the opening minutes before beating Memphis for the ninth time overall and second time this season.
The Huskies routed Memphis 97-49 when the Tigers visited Dec. 31. The venue changed, but not the final result with UConn winning in a more smothering fashion despite coach Geno Auriemma pulling all but one starter in the third quarter. The Huskies held Memphis to fewer points in each of the first three quarters.
“For us, it's always about how well can we play defensively and accomplish some things, and we did today,” Auriemma said.
“We made a lot of great decisions defensively, and again, it was tough on them. It wasn't like they could even go in and offensive rebound a lot because they're trying to get back on transition. Unfortunate for them, but I thought we did a lot of great things.”
Azura Stevens added 18 points off the bench for UConn. Samuelson scored 17 points in 25 minutes. Dangerfield, a native of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, added 12.
Brea Elmore led Memphis (7-13, 2-5) with 13 points, well below the 21 she had been averaging in league play. Jada Stinson had 10.
Memphis coach Melissa McFerrin noted the Huskies pressed her Tigers the previous time they played, giving them a chance at some 3-pointers and buckets in transition. UConn didn't press Wednesday and left no open looks.
“We have six healthy players they're playing against the No. 1 team in the country, so there's some adversity already built in,” McFerrin said.
“What I would like our team to do is grow from it and understand adversity is part of life and handle it better at times when the situation calls for it.”
They tipped off at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse with a nearly packed crowd at the gym seating 2,565 on campus.
Memphis led 10-6 on Elmore's 3 with 5:49 left in the first quarter. That's when UConn took over, finishing the quarter on a 20-0 run as they forced six turnovers they turned into 12 points.
The Tigers simply couldn't handle UConn's length as Alana Davis tried to pass over the 6-foot-6 Stevens to a teammate only to throw it out of bounds.
UConn led 26-10 at the end of the first quarter and outscored Memphis 22-7 in the second for a 48-17 halftime lead. The biggest questions were whether UConn would top its scoring average of 89.1 points a game and if Memphis could score double figures in a quarter after being held to five in the third. The Tigers did - against the Huskies backups in the fourth.
UConn: The Huskies outrebounded Memphis 47-24. ... They won their 47th straight road game dating back to their overtime loss at Stanford on Nov. 17, 2014. Better yet, they won their 115th straight on the road against unranked opponents dating back to Dec. 21, 2004, and a loss at Arizona State. They've won 148 straight home or away against unranked teams.
Memphis: The Tigers rank 302nd nationally in field goal defense. ... Luckily for McFerrin, her starters included Stinson, a freshman guard, and sophomore guard Taylor Barnes.
Williams played only 16 minutes with two points and three assists and a steal for UConn. Auriemma said her hip has been bothering her, so he's trying to rest the senior as much as possible.
UConn: The Huskies host Tulane on Saturday afternoon.
Memphis: The Tigers host Wichita State on Saturday afternoon.
Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker