HARTFORD, Connecticut — Geno Auriemma and his UConn Huskies keep rolling along.
Katie Lou Samuelson scored eight of her 26 points during a key third-quarter run, and No. 1 UConn beat 12th-ranked Ohio State 82-63 on Monday night for the Huskies’ 85th consecutive victory.
“We’re maximizing what we have right now,” Auriemma said. “Nov. 14 to Dec. 19, it’s a month and five days, we’re 10-0, beat some pretty good teams. … So far so good.”
Napheesa Collier had 27 points and 11 rebounds for the Huskies (10-0), who are five games away from matching their NCAA record 90-game winning streak set from 2008-10.
UConn led by six before opening the second half with a 15-7 spurt. Samuelson hit two 3-pointers during the run. The second made it 55-41.
The Huskies also switched up their defense on Ohio State star Kelsey Mitchell, holding her to four points in the second half after she had 19 at the break. With Mitchell bottled up, the Buckeyes (9-4) couldn’t get within single digits.
“We knew that it was going to be really difficult to guard them and we knew we’re not going to stay in the same defense the whole game and be able to do it,” Auriemma said. “Show them a little different look every now and then. (Mitchell) is impossible to guard. You saw that. No shot she won’t take.”
Ohio State trailed 19-7 before scoring the final nine points of the first quarter, capped by Mitchell’s deep 3-pointer just before the buzzer.
The Buckeyes were down 28-24 when UConn went on a 12-2 run capped by Collier’s 3-point play that made it 40-26 with 2:22 left in the half. Mitchell then closed the half with eight straight to get the Buckeyes to 40-34 at the break.
Mitchell only had eight points in the meeting between the teams last season, going 2 for 14 from the field.
“To their credit we came out of the locker room flat and they took control of the game,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said.
Ohio State: Linnae Harper scored four points in her second game for the Buckeyes after she became eligible. The guard transferred from Kentucky last year. … Ohio State had 19 turnovers that UConn converted into 28 points.
UConn: Starting point guard Saniya Chong is still sidelined with a concussion. She missed the Kansas State game as well. … The Huskies have won all four meetings with the Buckeyes. … Monday’s game was the annual toy drive for the Huskies where they collect donations for Toys for Tots.
Auriemma wore a slightly off-blue plaid jacket to honor Craig Sager, a longtime NBA sideline reporter who died last week following a battle with cancer. Auriemma got to know him while coaching USA Basketball to a gold medal in London.
“He was as into those games as any NBA playoff game. He knew the players and treated them the same as he would the best NBA players,” Auriemma said. “He didn’t mail it in or pretend it wasn’t important. I appreciated the interest he took in our players and our team. He had a way about him. He was so disarming.”
RUNNING THROUGH THE RANKS
UConn has already beaten No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 3 Baylor, No. 7 Florida State, No. 16 Texas and DePaul, which was in the Top 25 when the teams met. The Huskies still have games left against No. 4 Maryland and No. 6 South Carolina.
“We’re not going to win them all,” Auriemma said. “Not going to win every single game for the rest of eternity.”
Ohio State: The Buckeyes head home to face Winthrop on Wednesday before Big Ten play starts next week.
UConn: The Huskies hit the road to face Nebraska on Wednesday. After that they play at No. 4 Maryland on Dec. 29.