STORRS, Conn. -- The University of Connecticut women's basketball team shot a near-school record 72.2 percent from the floor Saturday in its 98-45 American Athletic Conference win over Tulane at Gampel Pavilion.
But the Huskies were even better when it came to being represented Thursday at "3.0 night" during halftime of the UConn-SMU men's game. Nine players on the 12-player roster (75 percent) were among the 361 student-athletes honored by UConn's Division of Athletics.
"Three were at the non-quite 3.0 ceremony," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said with a smile.
But don't let the smile fool you. The Hall of Fame coach stresses the importance of what his team does on the academic side. Every player who completed her eligibility at UConn since he took over in 1985 has earned her degree.
"To have nine out of the 12 on that list is really, really good," Auriemma said. "The other guys usually make it, but didn't this time due to some circumstance. This group of players takes their academics seriously."
Honored on Thursday were seniors Kia Nurse and Gabby Williams, juniors Katie Lou Samuelson and Azura Stevens, sophomores Molly Bent, Batouly Camara and Kyla Irwin, and freshmen Mikayla Coombs and Lexi Gordon.
Nurse, a two-time academic all-district and a 2017 CoSIDA academic All-America third-team selection, earned a spot on the Fall 2017 dean's list in the Liberal Arts and Sciences school as did Bent. It took a minimum 3.733 grade point average to earn that honor, and both recorded a perfect 4.0.
The crowd of 10,167 that made its way to Gampel Pavilion on Saturday for the noon start gave UConn the 200th sellout in program history. The first came on Feb. 20, 1993, when a then-capacity crowd of 8,241 watched reigning national champion Stanford defeat the Huskies 68-54.
"It was awesome," Samuelson said. "One of the great things about Gampel is that you really notice how many people and when it is filled everyone feels like the crowd is right on top of you. It's loud. The fans were great today."
The Huskies are averaging 9,883 for seven home dates. The average is 7,807 for four games at Gampel Pavilion and 12,650 for three games at the XL Center.
"It's a proven fact that if we play games at an accessible time, our fans will come out," Auriemma said. "For them to come out here and not only come to the game pretty much knowing we are going to win and then staying until the end of the game ... I turned around and said, 'This makes no sense,' But our fans are unique from fans around the country. We have all given them a hard time at one point or another about, 'Well, the seating is bad.' Well, the seating has always been this way. 'The parking is bad.' Well, the parking has always been bad. 'The traffic is bad.' The traffic has always been bad.
"So I think you have to give them a reason to come, and if you do they will. Playing games in the afternoon on weekends is the winning ticket. It is beyond me why we don't have more of those. There should never be a Saturday night game ever again. Every game should be Saturday or Sunday afternoon. I'm a big proponent of that."
UConn's next home is Sunday, Feb. 4, at 1:30 p.m. against Cincinnati at the XL Center in Hartford. Wichita State visits for the first time on Saturday, Feb. 10, in a 1 p.m. start at the XL Center. The following weekend, Temple comes to Hartford for a 2 p.m. tip on Feb. 18. The Huskies' final two Gampel Pavilion dates are part of ESPN's Big Monday package: Feb. 12 against No. 4 Louisville and Feb. 26, Senior Night, vs. South Florida.
"We have a bunch of games at the XL Center coming up, and I think we are going to have huge crowds for those, as well," Auriemma said. "So I'm proud of our fans, and I'm happy for them that our kids put on a great show today. I hope they understand that I remind our players all the time of their obligation to the fans. When people pay to watch you play, you have an obligation to make sure that they didn't just pay to see something they could go down to a playground and watch somebody do."
UConn reached the 20-win plateau for the 25th consecutive season on Saturday. In the previous 24 seasons, the Huskies also got to 25 wins. In 22 of the previous 24 seasons -- including the last 12, an NCAA record -- they've won at least 30.
"I remember when they used to describe coaches as, so-and-so had a great career with x-amount of 20-win seasons," Auriemma said. "Then the most games you played were 25, 26, 27. Now you're playing 36, 37, 40 games sometimes. Twenty wins is a lot of wins for any coach anytime, anyplace, any program. To be able to do it as many times as we've done it, it's part of our culture that we've created here. It's the same as playing at home. We take pride in playing here in this building. It goes to show where we are as a program that things we used to celebrate, we used to think highly of and strive for, now we just pass by them like ho-hum. That's how far we've gone."
The Huskies became 20-game winners for the first time during the 1988-89 season when they won their first Big East regular season and tournament titles, and made their first NCAA tournament appearance, finishing 24-6. They reached 20 wins each of the next three seasons but finished the 1992-93 campaign at 18-11 by ending the season with losses to Providence in the Big East tournament semifinals and Louisville in the NCAA first round. That is also the last time UConn lost back-to-back games, a span of 906 games.
Since the start of the 1993-94 season, the Huskies are 849-57 (.937).
Auriemma was restrained when asked about the investigation into the UConn men's basketball program and his concern for the UConn brand: "Until somebody tells me what it is and what exactly happened, I really don't have any comment or any thought on it because I don't have any idea what it is. So I'm like everybody else, probably, hoping that everything takes care of itself and that everything works out. The interesting thing is, 10,000 people came to the game today, and I bet you not one of them cared too much about what was going on. I think if we continue to put a good product on the floor, on the field or whatever, we will be OK. I think people will respond more so to how we play rather than to what is going on until we have something concrete to deal with." ... Auriemma used the word "disgraceful" during his postgame press conference. But unlike Jan. 18's game against Tulsa, it had nothing to do with his team. Saturday, it was about the $12 cost to park in the South Garage next to Gampel Pavilion. ... Freshman Megan Walker wrapped up her best week with 13 points, the first time this season she's been in double figures three straight games. "I thought Megan was great again. She is putting together a lot of great practices and a lot of really good games," Auriemma said. ... Up next for the Huskies is a visit to reigning national champion and No. 9 South Carolina on Thursday.