GREENVILLE, N.C. -- Kia Nurse knows only one way to play.
So after the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's junior guard sprinted to catch the lead pass that would lead to the layup that would give her 1,000 career points, she sprinted back on defense.
What else would anyone expect?
"Kia works as hard or harder as any person playing today," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said after Nurse reached the plateau in a 91-44 American Athletic Conference win over East Carolina at Minges Coliseum Tuesday night. "She competes every possession. I'm really, really proud of her. When she came here she didn't think of herself as a scorer. She thought of herself as she was in Canada as a young player, expected to just pass the ball to the scorers. Here she's had a huge impact."
Nurse, who came into her 96th career game with 988 points, became the 42nd UConn player to hit 1,000 with 7:13 left in the third quarter, when Gabby Williams blocked a shot and Nurse chased down the outlet pass from her classmate for the layup. She finished with 15 points to put her total at 1,003.
"I came here with no expectations of what I wanted to do," Nurse said. "I understood coming here that I would get the best out of my potential because the coaches would push me to that. Coach is right in that I never thought of being a 1,000-point scorer. It's nice to have that milestone."
The Hamilton, Ontario, native added five rebounds and six assists to no turnovers in her 29 minutes of work Tuesday night.
Four of Williams' 10 assists -- part of the junior forward's triple-double that included 16 points and 16 rebounds -- went to Nurse.
"That sums up our relationship these past three years," Williams said with a smile.
"Kia knows how to score. She's smart. She runs the court harder than anyone and gets a lot of points in transition. She can finish hard and makes a lot of threes. To get it this early in her career says a lot."
Nurse should get some company in the 1,000 club from her teammates by the end of the season. Williams is at 885 points, while the AAC's leading scorer sophomore Katie Lou Samuelson is at 823.
But Tuesday night, Nurse stood alone.
"That's awesome," Samuelson said. "Kia's been great for us this year, great these past three years."
Top-ranked UConn tied another one of its own NCAA records Tuesday night by picking up its 34th consecutive road win.
The Huskies have not lost on the road since its last loss overall on Nov. 17, 2014, at Stanford. The Huskies' previous 34-game road winning streak started with a win at Pittsburgh on Jan. 20, 2001, and was snapped by Notre Dame on Jan. 13, 2004.
Afterwards here, more than 100 people were standing outside a roped-off area next to the Huskies' locker room looking for pictures and autographs. Another contingent of fans was seen following Auriemma from his postgame press conference.
"It's cool, but we've said this so many times that the circus is in town," Williams said. "It's great that everywhere we go we have a fan base that appreciates what we have."
Tuesday night's attendance of 2,880 was about double the Pirates' average. While East Carolina coach Heather Macy said the atmosphere "was how Minges Coliseum needs to be every single night," it's doubtful many of the 1,500-or-so fans dressed in blue will be coming back until the Huskies return here next year.
LET'S GET PHYSICAL
East Carolina held UConn scoreless for 6:17 of the second quarter as nine unanswered points cut the Pirates' deficit to 12. The Huskies then scored 14 points in 2:35, including the final eight of the quarter, to lead by 22 at halftime. A 15-0 run to start the third quarter turned it into a rout.
"The game got very physical in the second quarter and we didn't handle it well," Auriemma said. "We took Napheesa (Collier) out and lost a bit of our cohesiveness. It happens, and I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often. But we talked at halftime about what we wanted to do differently and what offensively we needed to be looking for more than we did in the first half. That's was the difference. Defensively, we were a lot better."
Samuelson and Collier took shots to the face. Nurse was tied up by an East Carolina player and then sent her flying to the floor as the jump ball call was made. Of note, the NHL's Edmonton Oilers tweeted congratulations to Nurse, presumably over her reaching 1,000 points and not the hit. Nurse's brother, Darnell, plays for the Oilers.
The good news for Williams was none of her teeth were displaced. That's what happened to her Sunday against Tulane when she took an elbow to the jaw. She pointed to her right front tooth and could smile about it Tuesday night.
"It's fixed," Williams said. "It got knocked backwards and I knew right away it was out of place. Everyone's reaction to it, we were laughing. Luckily, Shea's (assistant coach Ralph) dentist was at the game. He took his fingers and popped the tooth back in. He put a splint back there that I'll have to wear for a few months to keep it in place.
"It actually didn't hurt as bad as you might think. My lip hurt. The numbing in it is just now going away. I'm OK, I just have to wear a mouth guard."
UConn stretched its run of not being behind to 435:59. It last trailed 4-2 to Kansas State on Dec. 11 ... Saniya Chong saw her streak of 117 minutes without a turnover end with two garbage-time miscues in the final 3:44. The nation's leader in assist-to-turnover ratio had three assists to leave that No. 1 ratio at plus-4.13 ... UConn Class of 2017 signee Lexi Gordon recorded her 2,500th career point Tuesday night. She had 31 points in L.D. Bell High's 55-54 overtime loss to Flower Mound ... Nurse, Williams, Collier, and Samuelson were named to the USBWA Ann Meyers Drysdale Player of the Year watch list on Tuesday.
UCONN TO FACE MICHIGAN STATE AT NIKE EVENT
UConn announced Wednesday that it will participate in the PK80 women's basketball invitational and face Michigan State at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, Oregon, on Nov. 25, 2017 in celebration of Phil Knight's 80th birthday. Host Oregon and Oklahoma will play in the second game of the one-day event.
The journey is expected to be part of a two-game west coast trip for the Huskies, who are scheduled to play a return game at UCLA next season.
"I am already looking forward to competing in the Phil Knight Invitational out in Oregon next November," head coach Geno Auriemma said in a statement. "Eugene is a beautiful town and Matt Knight Arena is one of the most impressive facilities that I have ever set foot in. It will be a great experience for us to play a quality opponent like Michigan State so far from home in what will surely be a first class event."
PK80 is an event honoring Nike co-founder and 2012 Naismith Hall of Fame inductee Phil Knight.
The men's tournament in Portland, taking place on Thursday, Friday and Sunday of the same weekend as the women's games in Eugene, features the Ducks plus Arkansas, Butler, UConn, Duke, Florida, Georgetown, Gonzaga, Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Portland, Portland State, Stanford and Texas.