As has been the case for much of this decade, the UConn Huskies are the unquestioned rulers of women's college basketball. Their first game of the 2016 NCAA Tournament, a 101-49 shellacking of Robert Morris, was a typically dominant showing.
The No. 1 overall seed Huskies led the No. 16 Colonials 41-4 after the first quarter — women's college basketball adopted four 10-minute quarters as its game format prior to the 2015-16 season — and would lead 60-9 midway through the second quarter. That lead was 49 points at halftime and 61 points after three quarters, and UConn could arguably have made a run at the all-time record for margin of victory in a women's Division I game — 102 points — had it wanted to play aggressive defense all game against the woefully overmatched Colonials, given that it forced 13 turnovers in the first quarter, but just ("just") 16 over the final 30 minutes.
Huskies freshman Katie Lou Samuelson led all scorers with 22 points, and Breanna Stewart posted 18 points, eight steals, five rebounds, four assists, and three blocks, while also passing Rebecca Lobo for first place on UConn's all-time blocks list. Four other Huskies scored in double figures, too, while just one Colonial, Anna Niki Stamolamprou, notched double-digit points — and she nearly had a points and turnovers double-double, given her nine giveaways.
UConn also extended its winning streak to 70 games, tying its own second-longest streak in NCAA history.
The Huskies blitzing their woefully overmatched first-round opponents is nothing new. This wasn't even the biggest first-round blowout of Stewart's career: in 2013, the Huskies beat Idaho by 68, 105-37. In her four years with the Huskies, they've doubled up No. 16 seeds three times, come a single point shy of doing so once.
And none of those four wins cracks UConn's two most lopsided NCAA Tournament wins ever, because the Huskies beat teams by 72 and 71 in 2001 and 2000.
But this one was different, if not in margin or in style, because of the opponent. This was the last game for Robert Morris coach Sal Buscaglia, a 38-year veteran with more than 700 wins who announced that this would be his last season prior to the fall. His Colonials were the No. 3 seed in the NEC Tournament, but pulled upsets to get him one last NCAA Tournament appearance.
It may have ended much like Buscaglia's first game as a coach, a 105-17 trouncing in the first game in the history of Hilbert College's program, but it wasn't without a bit of dignity. Robert Morris won the fourth quarter, 25-16, to get the final margin of victory under 60 points.
Afterward, he made a plea for more dignity — for his players, and his sport.
Sal just said so many touching things, wiped a tear over retiring. "They make it so damn hard, because theyre so damn good."— Kerith Burke (@KerithBurke) March 19, 2016
Sal continued on coverage: not just the UConns, the mid-majors, and not just special events. Dont treat them as second class citizens.— Kerith Burke (@KerithBurke) March 19, 2016
Yes, Buscaglia's last game was the sort of UConn beatdown that draws eyes because the Huskies are head and shoulders above most Division I teams. It was also a reminder that there are stories worth telling beyond those final scores.
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Watch No. 11 Northern Iowa stun No. 6 Texas with this amazing buzzer beater from half court
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