Connecticut's Kia Nurse looks to pass around Stanford's DiJonai Carrington during the third quarter an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. Connecticut won 78-53. (AP Photo/David Dermer) (David Dermer/AP)
Connecticut's Kia Nurse looks to pass around Stanford's DiJonai Carrington during the third quarter an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. Connecticut won 78-53. (AP Photo/David Dermer) (David Dermer/AP)

STORRS, Conn. -- Kia Nurse was born not only into a family of athletes, but competitors.

"If you ever sat at the dinner table in the Nurse household you would think that all of us were insane," the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's senior guard said.

But if there's a discussion of the most competitive players to come through coach Geno Auriemma's program, Nurse's name would be prominent. And it's doubtful that Auriemma has ever asked the Hamilton, Ontario. Canada native for extra effort because she has been invested 100 percent since day one.

UConn's thank you for her efforts comes Friday night. The top-ranked Huskies have traveled to Toronto -- about an hour from Hamilton -- to take on Duquesne in a homecoming game for Canadian Olympian Nurse at the sold-out Mattamy Athletic Centre (SNY, 7 p.m.).

"It's awesome. It's an incredible facility," Nurse said. "Ryerson University and their coach has done a tremendous amount of work to try and make it something special and Canada Basketball is in on it as well. I'm excited to see my family and friends that will come out to support me. But I'm also excited for the kids that will come that get to see UConn play in person."

Among her family expected to be at the game are her father Richard, who played football in the CFL for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, mother Kathy, who played college basketball at McMaster in Canada, and older sister Tamika, who started her college career at Oregon before finishing and graduating from Bowling Green. Her older brother Darnell will not be able to make it as the NHL defenseman will be in Edmonton as he and the Oilers host the St. Louis Blues.

The friends will include a crowd of 2,500, which is capacity for the basketball arena in the old building once called Maple Leaf Gardens and the site of one Nurse's greatest triumphs when she led Team Canada to the gold medal -- its first -- at the 2015 Pan American Games.

"When I go back home I always get such a warm welcome, and Hamilton is essentially a hotbed for basketball within Ontario," Nurse said. "To go home and see everyone and to be in a place where there is a Tim Horton's, I'm excited for that. I think the reaction from the people at home has been amazing. They keep messaging me about how excited they are for me to come play there."

She returns to the area where she got her start playing basketball on a team coached by her father.

"That was an interesting dynamic on some days," Nurse said. "Practice was hard and I always thought he was really tough on me. But it helped make me what I am today and made me understand the work ethic needed to get here and be successful.

"With my family there was a very good balance of competitive nature and support. When you go through it and you're the last one to come out of a family that has accomplished so much on their own, having the ability to be a phone call away from someone that's gone through what you're going through has been beyond beneficial for me."

Her sister, who is nine years older, was her role model growing up. Her admiration for her brother, who is 12 months older, grew through the years as he made his way up the ranks of youth hockey in Canada en route to becoming the first-round pick (seventh overall) by the Oilers in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

Her growth as a player and person has been a total family affair.

"My sister always had the attitude that every time she walked into the gym, you thought there was no one that was going to stop her that day and she thought the same thing," Nurse said. "She had a competitive mentality and winner's attitude of, 'I'm going to do everything I can to help my team win today.' I always looked up to that and wanted that."

"My brother was always absolutely incredible. He would be on the ice twice a day, in the gym twice a day, and he never looked tired. He took care of himself and his body. To see him achieving his dreams right now, the way he holds himself and the way he carries himself on a day-to-day basis is incredible. He's a better person than a hockey player and that says a lot for him.

"My mom is competitive, but I think the IQ part comes from her. My dad is straight toughness, in your face and, 'I'll get you to do whatever is needed to work hard.' There's a competitive edge from them like, 'Someone is going to catch up to you if you don't keep working, so compete.'"

Nurse went to high school at St. Thomas More Catholic and caught the attention of Canada Basketball. At 15, she debuted for Team Canada at the 2011 FIBA Americas U-16 Championships and took part in the 2012 FIBA U-17 world championships a year later. She was 17 when she took part in an exhibition tour for the senior national team.

And it was in that summer of 2013 that the Huskies' coaching staff found her, though Nurse had written on a seventh-grade "dream chart" that she wanted to go to UConn.

"I was down to a short list by the time they recruited me and I with our senior national team for the first time," Nurse said. "My dad called me and asked if I wanted to play in a tournament in Washington when I got home. I told him I wasn't sure about that but he said, 'Your friends are playing.' OK, let's go. So we went out there and played and that is when UConn saw me. They called and a couple of other schools called so I thought, 'I have to give them a chance because their track record speaks for itself.' The Olympics was a big goal of mine and they produce Olympians. That was big, too.

"UConn was my third official visit and I had five planned. I cancelled the last two after I left here. It was down to those three. I loved it here, the campus, coaches, and players."

She quickly connected with Auriemma, who, the previous summer, had coached the United States to Olympic gold in London.

"I think I was scared of him back when I was being recruited," Nurse said with a laugh. "I wasn't big into the process because I didn't like all the attention and all that fun stuff around it. But hearing what he had to say and hearing how genuine he was, that was a big thing for me when he came on the home visit.

"He is always honest with you and is somebody that has an open-door policy. That was the vibe I got from him. He genuinely cares about developing you not only as a player but as a person. The life lessons he would teach us on the court would translate to things that would help us in life."

Friday night's game will be her 120th played (she missed four a season ago with an ankle injury) at UConn. The Huskies' record since her arrival is 121-2 with two national championships, three Final Four appearances, and three American Athletic Conference regular season and tournament titles.

A year ago, she reached the 1,000-point plateau and this season set a school record by making 12 consecutive 3-point shots. Through nine games she is averaging 15.6 points on 57.1 percent shooting from the floor and 54.3 percent from 3-point land, all career bests.

"I have grown so much here as a player and a person, and I'm going home to show them a very different player than the one who played in high school," Nurse said. "All those people who saw me in high school are going to be really confused."

But they'll remember what she did at the Mattamy Athletic Centre on July 20, 2015.

Nurse torched a United States team led by her UConn teammates Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson for 33 points in an 81-73 win in the Pan American Games final. The Summer of Kia continued a month later when she led the Canadians to the gold medal and was the Most Valuable Player of the FIBA Americas tournament in Edmonton, a victory that gave Team Canada its berth in the 2016 Olympic Games.

Her trip with the Huskies is her first back to Mattamy Athletic Centre since that magic night.

"So much happened that summer," Nurse said with a smile. "For the first time, people in Canada were talking about women's basketball. It was in the headlines, on social media. People were interested in us. For so long it had been all about men's basketball with Steve Nash and Anthony Wiggins coming up and Jamal Murray. Now there was talk, 'Who's coming up with the women's team?' Once the Pan Am Games happened, all these little girls saw what Canada Basketball was and they could dream to be a part of it. Older people came out and said they needed to pay attention to us."

UConn (9-0) is coming off an 88-64 victory over Oklahoma Tuesday night that gave Auriemma his 1,000th win. Nurse, who had joked before the game she would play well against the Sooners so that Auriemma's milestone wouldn't wait until her homecoming night, was one of four players in double figures with 17 points while putting forth a solid performance at the defensive end. Freshman Megan Walker, who missed the Oklahoma game with the flu, practiced Thursday and should be available Friday night.

Duquesne (10-2) has won eight in a row and was a perfect partner for the Huskies to face. The Dukes feature their own Hamilton native in sophomore guard Halle Bovell. But Bovell has not played this season and may redshirt. 

The teams last met in the 2016 NCAA tournament with UConn routing Duquesne 97-51 in a second-round game at Gampel Pavilion.

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Feb 16, 2020; Hartford, Connecticut, USA; Connecticut Huskies head coach Dan Hurley looks in on forward Akok Akok (23) after a play against the Memphis Tigers in the first half at XL Center. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 16, 2020; Hartford, Connecticut, USA; Connecticut Huskies head coach Dan Hurley looks in on forward Akok Akok (23) after a play against the Memphis Tigers in the first half at XL Center. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

UConn won 64-61 over Memphis on Sunday at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut, and head coach Dan Hurley acknowledged the gravity of the final result.

But when he tried to sum up his Huskies (14-11, 5-7 AAC) team's three-point victory against the Tigers (17-8, 6-6), Hurley thought back on Akok Akok's devastating injury.

The redshirt freshman forward went down in the first minute of the opening half, blocking a shot at the 9:12 mark and suffering what UConn officials said appeared to be a torn Achilles.

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UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma spoke with SNY's Maria Marino after the No. 5 Huskies defeated USF 67-47 despite a slow start out the gate.

Auriemma got 21 points out of Megan Walker, while Olivia Nelson-Ododa added another 20 of her own to help UConn avoid a big upset and eventually pull away in the second half.

"It's amazing how when you get into something that looks like offense, and you cut when you're supposed to, and screen when you're supposed to, and pass when you're supposed to, and shoot when you're supposed to, you end up winning games," Auriemma said after the final buzzer.

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Feb 16, 2020; Hartford, Connecticut, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Christian Vital (1) reacts after his three point basket against the Memphis Tigers in the second half at XL Center. UConn defeated Memphis 64-61. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 16, 2020; Hartford, Connecticut, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Christian Vital (1) reacts after his three point basket against the Memphis Tigers in the second half at XL Center. UConn defeated Memphis 64-61. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Christian Vital scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half to lead UConn to a 64-61 win over Memphis on Sunday.

James Bouknight added 17 points for the Huskies (14-11, 5-7 American), who have won three of their last four.

Vital and Bouknight combined to score 29 of the Huskies 39 second half points.

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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Megan Walker scored 21 points and Olivia Nelson-Ododa added 20 Sunday to help No. 5 UConn shrug off a slow start to beat South Florida 67-47 and remain unbeaten in the American Athletic Conference.

The Huskies (21-3, 11-0) trailed by four at halftime, took the lead for good early in the third quarter and broke the game open by beginning the fourth quarter with a 15-2 run and holding USF (15-10, 7-4) to one field goal during a nine-minute stretch.

Aubrey Griffin came off the bench to score eight points, grab seven rebounds and key the Huskies defense with five steals.

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DALLAS (AP) Feron Hunt scored a career-high 23 points and was 4-for-4 at the free throw line in the last 16 seconds as SMU held off UConn 79-75 Wednesday night.

Hunt scored double his season average going 8-for-9 from the floor with a pair of 3-pointers and seven rebounds. Kendric Davis added 19 points on 7-for-11 shooting with six assists, Emmanuel Bandoumel scored 13 points with six rebounds and three steals as the Mustangs (17-6, 7-4 American Athletic Conference) shot 55% as a team (28-for-51).

James Bouknight scored 21 points to pace UConn (13-11, 4-7), which trailed by as many as 15 after halftime before rallying to within seven points or fewer for the final six minutes. After Hunt buried a 3 that gave SMU a 59-44 lead, Bouknight scored on a drive to begin an 18-10 rally for the Huskies and he capped it five minutes later with a 3-pointer making the score 69-62.

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Paige Bueckers may be the No. 1 overall recruit in the country, but she's continuing to work hard before officially heading to Storrs, Conn.

From Hopkins High School in Minnetonka, Minn., the UConn commit isn't getting caught up in the hype.

"I'm not ever satisfied with what I've accomplished or what I've done in the past years," said Bueckers. "I think the thing that motivates me the most is knowing that I'll never be perfect, so I can always reach to be perfect. I haven't reached my full potential. I'm in high school and I still want to keep going in college and, God willing, the pros, and I don't want to get caught up in the hype in high school and I just want to keep pushing."

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Geno Auriemma, like usual, didn't hold back after the UConn women's basketball team lost to South Carolina for the first time in the program's history.

The Gamecocks were simply the better team Monday night.

"We're allowed to lose a goddamn game every once in awhile where the other team plays better than us," Auriemma said. "So how about you write that somewhere? 'South Carolina played way better than Connecticut.' That's allowed to happen every once in awhile."

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Ty Harris scored 19 points, Aliayah Boston dominated underneath and No. 1 South Carolina held UConn to a record-low two points in the opening quarter on the way to a 70-52 win Monday night - its first-ever win over the fifth-ranked Huskies.

The Gamecocks (23-1) came in 0-8 all-time against UConn, seven of those defeats with national championship coach Dawn Staley in charge.

But South Carolina took control immediately with its suffocating defense, limiting the Huskies to 1-of-16 shooting to lead 11-2 at the end of the first period.

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Feb 9, 2020; Storrs, Connecticut, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Christian Vital (1) drives the ball against Cincinnati Bearcats guard Keith Williams (2) in the first half at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 9, 2020; Storrs, Connecticut, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Christian Vital (1) drives the ball against Cincinnati Bearcats guard Keith Williams (2) in the first half at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

STORRS, Conn. (AP) Freshman James Bouknight scored 23 points, including two key free throws in overtime, as UConn upset Cincinnati 72-71 in the American Athletic Conference on Sunday.

Christian Vital added 19 points for the Huskies (13-10, 4-6 American), who had lost seven games this season by seven points or fewer.

Cincinnati's Jarron Cumberland's jump shot attempt at the buzzer was waved off and he did not get a foul call

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UConn head coach Geno Auriemma has coached more than his fair share of talented players of the years.

But you don't become one of the most successful coaches in the history of college basketball without learning how to motivate your players to get the best out of them.

Following UConn's big win over Memphis on Friday night, former UConn player and current SNY analyst Kara Wolters recalled a story about how Auriemma called her out for a poor week of practice, and then Auriemma told the exact same story during his post-game press conference.

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STORRS, CONN. (AP) Megan Walker scored 26 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead No. 4 UConn to a 94-55 rout of Memphis on Friday night.

Christyn Williams added 20 points and Olivia Nelson-Ododa had 19 points, making all nine of her shots for the Huskies (20-2, 10-0 American), who have won 20 games for the 27th straight year.

Madison Griggs scored 15 points for Memphis (12-11, 3-7), which lost for the first time in three games.

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Jan 1, 2020; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard James Bouknight (2) controls the ball against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the second half at Fifth Third Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports (Aaron Doster)
Jan 1, 2020; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard James Bouknight (2) controls the ball against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the second half at Fifth Third Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports (Aaron Doster)

TULSA, Okla. (AP) James Bouknight had a season-high 22 points as UConn topped Tulsa 72-56 on Thursday night and knocked the Golden Hurricane out of first place in the American Athletic Conference.

The victory was the first for the Huskies at Tulsa, after losing five previous games there. Tulsa dropped to 11-2 at home and a half-game behind the new conference leader, Cincinnati (8-2).

Alterique Gilbert had 17 points for UConn (12-10, 3-6), which snapped its five-game road losing streak. Christian Vital added 10 points. Isaiah Whaley had 10 points and 12 rebounds.

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STORRS, Conn. (AP) Ruthy Hebard had 22 points and 12 rebounds and No. 3 Oregon handed fourth-ranked UConn its first loss on campus in seven years, rolling to a 74-56 victory on Monday night.

It was UConn's worst home loss since Dec. 5, 2005, when the Huskies lost to North Carolina by 23 points.

Sabrina Ionescu added 10 points, nine rebounds and nine assists for the Ducks (20-2), falling short of increasing her NCAA-record 23 triple-doubles.

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Feb 1, 2020; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard James Bouknight (2) handles the ball against Memphis Tigers forward Precious Achiuwa (55) during the first half at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 1, 2020; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard James Bouknight (2) handles the ball against Memphis Tigers forward Precious Achiuwa (55) during the first half at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Precious Achiuwa scored 16 points with eight rebounds, Lester Quinones grabbed eight rebounds and scored 14 points, including a go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:45 to play, and Memphis held off UConn 70-63 on Saturday.

Quinones' 3 put Memphis up 59-56 and the Tigers pulled ahead by as many as seven after making 9 of 10 free throws in the final 1:14.

Lance Thomas blocked five shots and scored 14 points for the Tigers (16-5, 5-3 American Athletic Conference), who held the Huskies to 34% shooting from the field (22 of 65). Alex Lomax scored 13 points.

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After their 129th straight American Athletic Conference game win, UConn head coach Geno Auriemma talked about senior guard Crystal Dangerfield's performance against Cincinnati.

"She really really came up big late in the game," Auriemma said. "You're a senior, and you see that we're struggling a bit offensively, and sometimes you just got to make shots. That's the story of the game, right? The quarters where we make shots, we look pretty good. It's funny how when you make shots, your defense gets better."

Dangerfield led all scorers with 24 points, shooting 7-for-13 from the field and 5-for-7 from three in 37 minutes.

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STORRS, Conn. (AP) Crystal Dangerfield scored 24 points, Megan Walker added 21 points and 11 rebounds and No. 4 UConn beat Cincinnati 80-50 to win its 129th straight American Athletic Conference game.

Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Christyn Williams each chipped in with 12 points for the Huskies (19-1, 9-0 American), who led just 35-31 at halftime before pulling away in the second half.

Antoinette Miller had 19 points for the Bearcats (13-7, 4-3), who had won four of their last five games. IImar'I Thomas, the conference's leading scorer, scored 12 points, almost nine below her season average.

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Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi (David Butler II)
Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi (David Butler II)

Phoenix Mercury G Diana Taurasi weighed in on comments made by Marcus Morris of the Knicks after Wednesday night's game, when he said Jae Crowder had "female tendencies" (among other insensitive remarks about women) before apologizing. 

"It was disappointing coming from Marcus," Taurasi told SNY's Joe Kraus on Thursday. "I know him, he spent time in Phoenix with the Suns. I've had interaction with him. He's a good guy. To go off the cuff and say stuff like that -- he must have been emotional, after (the game). I know it's intense, but it is what it is now. Words matter and what you say matters. It's just disappointing coming from him in this stage of his career. You gotta watch it, you gotta be sensitive for what you say. At the end of the day, you're responsible for what you say. It's all on his shoulders now."

Morris was upset about Crowder after a heated end to the game, and said the following:

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Jan 29, 2020; Storrs, Connecticut, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Brendan Adams (10) drives the ball over Temple Owls forward Arashma Parks (14) in the first half at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)
Jan 29, 2020; Storrs, Connecticut, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Brendan Adams (10) drives the ball over Temple Owls forward Arashma Parks (14) in the first half at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)

STORRS, Conn. (AP) UConn fans got a glimpse Wednesday of what the future may hold for the Huskies.

Dan Hurley started three freshmen and Connecticut responded with a 78-63 win over Temple in the American Athletic Conference, snapping a four-game losing streak.

"I just thought we showed the character, the toughness, the identity that we're building as a program here," Hurley said.

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Gianna Bryant might have been only 13 years old and just getting started on her basketball journey, but she left a lasting impact upon leaving the world so soon.

Gianna and her father, Kobe Bryant, died Sunday in a southern California helicopter crash that killed nine people. Kobe, the 18-time All-Star and five-time NBA champion while starring for the Lakers for 20 years from 1996-2016, was reportedly heading to the Mamba Sports Academy in nearby Thousand oaks with his daughter and others when the flight crashed in Calabasas. He was 41.

Among nine lives lost from the tragedy, Kobe and Gianna had so much more left to give. Monday at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut, players from the U.S. National Team remembered Kobe and Gianna after an exhibition against UConn.

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A women's basketball game took place Monday evening at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut, but the tragic deaths of Kobe and Gianna Bryant were heavy on everyone's minds during the exhibition between UConn and the U.S. National Team.

The 41-year-old Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter died suddenly Sunday in a southern California helicopter crash that killed nine people. The flight from Calabasas to nearby Thousand Oaks, where the Bryant-owned Mamba Sports Academy resides, served as transportation for a travel basketball game, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Sunday.

After a pregame tribute observed a 24-second moment of silence for Kobe, with a courtside seat wearing a gray No. 2 UConn jersey and white flowers honoring Gianna, Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma tried to find the words. Kobe and Gianna attended UConn games when possible, and Auriemma elected to share a story of the first time the two arrived on campus.

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Jan 27, 2020; Hartford, Connecticut, USA; The center monitor stands out in honor of former NBA star Kobe Bryant before the start of the game against the UConn Huskies and 2020 USA Womens National Basketball Team at XL Center. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)
Jan 27, 2020; Hartford, Connecticut, USA; The center monitor stands out in honor of former NBA star Kobe Bryant before the start of the game against the UConn Huskies and 2020 USA Womens National Basketball Team at XL Center. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)

With heavy hearts, the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut, paused prior to Monday's 7 p.m. women's basketball game between UConn and the U.S. National Team and remembered two lives taken far too soon.

Los Angeles County authorities confirmed Sunday that Kobe Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, died in a southern California helicopter crash killing nine people. The flight from Calabasas to nearby Thousand Oaks, where the Bryant-owned Mamba Sports Academy is, served as transportation for a travel basketball game, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Sunday.

As the sports world continued to grieve Monday, the Huskies did the same. During a moment of silence -- 24 seconds, for the number Kobe wore from 2006-16 -- the public address announcer shared the following message.

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Many in the sports world and beyond have a collective heavy heart following the tragic deaths of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, on Sunday -- a duo who shared a strong bond when it came to basketball. 

That love for the game took Kobe and Gianna to Storrs, Conn. last year to watch a regular season game between UConn and Houston. SNY's Justine Ward caught up with them in the second quarter of the contest, and Kobe gushed about Gianna's love for the program -- one she hoped to be a part of someday.  

"I think the players, first and foremost. The camaraderie that they have with each other is something she kind of gravitated to," Kobe said when asked what Gianna loved about the Huskies. "And then Geno (Auriemma) and (Chris Dailey) and their leadership and the culture of the program, all the way on down to Rebecca (Lobo) and Diana (Taurasi) and Sue (Bird), so she loves the program."

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Yale got the lead in the third period and wouldn't let it up, as UConn fell to the Bulldogs, 3-2, in the Connecticut Ice consolation game on Sunday at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn. 

Things to know from Sunday's game

1) A tip of the cap must be given to Yale G Corbin Kaczperski, who collected 42 saves over three period to help the Bulldogs. UConn outshot Yale 44-24, but it was Kaczperski's tenacious goaltending that kept the game from getting out of hand. He earned the first star in the game with his .955 save percentage.

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Jan 26, 2020; Hartford, Connecticut, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard James Bouknight (2) drives the ball against Tulsa Golden Hurricane forward Martins Igbanu (1) in the first half at XL Center. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 26, 2020; Hartford, Connecticut, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard James Bouknight (2) drives the ball against Tulsa Golden Hurricane forward Martins Igbanu (1) in the first half at XL Center. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Martins Igbanu scored a career-high 28 points and Tulsa held off UConn 79-75 in overtime Sunday to pick up its fifth straight win.

Darien Jackson and Brandon Rachal each added 14 points for the Golden Hurricane (14-7, 6-1 American), who were picked to finish 10th in the American Athletic Conference but are currently in first place.

Freshman James Bouknight had 16 points for the Huskies (10-9, 1-5) who have lost four straight and six of seven.

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The Huskies dominated the ECU Pirates 98-42 on Saturday afternoon.

Christyn Williams scored 26 points, while freshman Anna Makurat added 24 points of her own.

After the game, UConn head coach Geno Auriemma explained that he was very pleased with the way his team played in the lopsided win.

"I thought there for long stretches we did a great job of moving the ball," Auriemma said. "We didn't waste a lot of dribbles and we didn't hesitate. I think sometimes our team gets a little bit tentative. After that first quarter, I thought we got into a really good rhythm and everybody that touched it did something good with it, so I was really happy with the way we played today."

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In the first semi-final game of the inaugural Connecticut Ice, the Quinnipiac Bobcats squeaked out a 3-2 win against the UConn Huskies, but despite the result, both head coaches were jubilant that the festival's first game was so successful.

"I'm excited we started this tournament," Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. "Tim Taylor (Yale's longtime former head coach) and I talked about this 15, 16 years ago. We were all talking about it, it just never happened - and it happened. Excited to have it come to fruition. Just looking in the room here, this is like the Frozen Four with the kind of media attention we have here."

Quinnipiac and UConn fans filled Webster Bank Arena and turned a non-conference matchup into a playoff-like atmosphere.

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The Quinnipiac Bobcats defeated the UConn Huskies 3-2 on Saturday to advance to Sunday's Connecticut Ice final.

Five things to know from Saturday's game

1) The first period featured a flurry of goals. The Huskies struck first as Ruslan Iskhakov notched his seventh goal of the year. But just 18 seconds later, Karlis Cukste put the Bobcats on the board for the first time to tie things up 1-1.

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) Christyn Williams scored 26 points, Megan Walker had 15 points and 12 rebounds and No. 3 UConn pulled away after the first quarter for a 98-42 victory at East Carolina on Saturday.

The Huskies went 15 of 25 from 3-point range, including 8 of 10 by freshman Anna Makurat, who finished with 24 points.

UConn (18-1, 8-0) improved its record in American Athletic Conference regular-season and postseason games to 128-0. ECU (3-16, 0-6) lost its 12th straight game and dropped to 5-100 all-time versus ranked opponents.

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HOUSTON -- DeJon Jarreau had 18 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, Caleb Mills scored 20 points and No. 25 Houston beat UConn 63-59 on Thursday night.

Jarreau and Mills combined for the final 17 points, including 12 free throws, as Houston overcame a six-point deficit in the final 5:15.

Houston (15-4, 5-1 American Athletic Conference) won its third straight despite shooting 36% from the floor. Houston was 25 of 34 from the free throw line in a foul-filled game.

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Jan 23, 2020; Hartford, Connecticut, USA; UConn Huskies guard Crystal Dangerfield (5) shoots against Tennessee Lady Vols guard Jordan Horston (25) in the first half at XL Center. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 23, 2020; Hartford, Connecticut, USA; UConn Huskies guard Crystal Dangerfield (5) shoots against Tennessee Lady Vols guard Jordan Horston (25) in the first half at XL Center. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Crystal Dangerfield scored 14 points and No. 3 UConn used a dominant third quarter to beat 23rd-ranked Tennessee 60-45 on Thursday night - the first matchup in 13 years between the teams whose rivalry dominated the sport for over a decade.

Trailing by three at the half, the Huskies (17-1) scored 17 of the first 19 points in the third quarter, taking a 45-33 lead on Dangerfield's 3-pointer with 1:45 left in the period. UConn led by 11 after three and Tennessee could get no closer in the fourth quarter.

Rennia Davis scored 16 points to lead the Lady Vols (15-4).

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UConn crushed Tulsa 92-34 on Sunday afternoon, as freshman guard Anna Makurat had 21 points off the bench.

After the win, head coach Geno Auriemma said he wasn't surprised with Makurat's performance.

"I'm not surprised that Anna had a game like today because these last three or four games, she's looked really really good," Auriemma said. "She's getting more comfortable every day, she's finding spots on the floor where she can be successful and she feels better shooting the ball. She's getting better defensively. I'm not surprised, she just needed to see the ball go in a lot, and that's what happened."

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STORRS, Conn. (AP) Megan Walker scored 24 points and No. 4 UConn routed Tulsa 92-34 on Sunday to extend its American Athletic Conference winning streak to 127 games.

Freshman Anna Makurat added a season-high 21 points and Crystal Dangerfield scored 16 for the Huskies (16-1, 7-0), who have won all 109 regular-season conference games and all six AAC tournaments since leaving the Big East for the American.

Christyn Williams and Aubrey Griffin each had 11 points.

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 (David Butler II)
(David Butler II)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Jermaine Samuels scored 19 points and made the decisive three-point play that put No. 14 Villanova ahead for good in a 61-55 win over Connecticut on Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center.

Samuels converted a three-point play with 2:51 left for a 52-51 lead and then buried a 3 with 31 seconds remaining for a four-point lead that clinched another tight one for the Wildcats (14-3).

The Huskies (10-7) kept it close against their pending Big East rival and attacked the paint with authority to offset a miserable effort from 3-point range (2 of 15). Christian Vital fought through the lane and tossed in a layup that brought the Huskies within two with 24 seconds left. But a full-court press on Villanova came up empty and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl sank two free throws to secure the Wildcats' 10th win in 11 games.

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UConn improved to 6-0 in the American Athletic and 15-1 overall after their 59-52 win over UCF on Thursday night.

Sophomore forward Olivia Nelson-Ododa had nine points and 12 rebounds in the win. Afterwards, she knew what the team has to improve on going forward.

"Personally, just finishing better inside, posting up stronger, working on that," Nelson-Ododa said. "As a team, we can take from this, we have to continue to be the aggressor. We get everybody's best game, and that's evident the past couple games, and so we just have to learn to work through that."

 

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Megan Walker scored 19 points and Crystal Dangerfield sparked a big first-half rally, leading No. 4 Connecticut to a 59-52 win over Central Florida on Thursday night.

It was only the second single-digit win for the Huskies (15-1, 6-0 American Athletic) , who are 126-0 in conference games, including tournaments.

Dangerfield finished with 13 points, five assists and three steals, and Olivia Nelson-Ododa had nine points and 12 rebounds.

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UConn defeated Memphis, 68-56, in a tough road matchup on Tuesday, and while the Huskies played a strong game defensively, holding the Tigers to just 33.3 percent shooting, they struggled to move the ball on offense.

After the game, head coach Geno Auriemma was not pleased with his team's offensive effort.

"We started getting some stops down the other end," Auriemma said. "I think they scored (23 points) in the second half, so our defense was a lot better in the second half. Our offense was terrible the whole game but we made a couple of really big shots when we had to.

"I can't explain it, we just had no, absolutely zero any kind of continuity on offense, so we grinded it out. We got a win that the way we shot it and the way they were playing, it just as easily could have been a loss, so I'll take it and get out of here."

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Crystal Dangerfield scored 24 and fourth-ranked UConn used a late run to pull away from Memphis in a 68-56 on Tuesday night.

The Huskies (14-1, 5-0 American Athletic Conference) escaped in the final quarter to remain undefeated in league play.. They have not lost a conference game since joining AAC in the 2013-14 season and are 11-0 all-time against Memphis.

Megan Walker added 14 points and nine rebounds for the Huskies and Christyn Williams scored 16 points.

Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu led the Tigers (9-8, 0-4) with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman guard Madison Griggs scored 12.

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Jan 12, 2020; Hartford, Connecticut, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard James Bouknight (2) reacts after a play against the Wichita State Shockers in double overtime at XL Center. Wichita State defeated UConn in double overtime 89-86. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)
Jan 12, 2020; Hartford, Connecticut, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard James Bouknight (2) reacts after a play against the Wichita State Shockers in double overtime at XL Center. Wichita State defeated UConn in double overtime 89-86. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Wichita State gave up a nine-point point lead in just over a minute at the end of regulation and had two key players foul out during two overtimes.

But the Shockers found a way to get their ninth consecutive win, and eighth straight on the road dating to last season, as they held off UConn 89-86 on Sunday.

"I thought we were tremendously tough and ratty, pursuing balls and getting stops," coach Gregg Marshall said. "Both teams just fought like crazy and left it all out there."

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Tyler Polley
Tyler Polley

The UConn men's basketball team has lost F Tyler Polley for the rest of the season, as the university said he tore his ACL and meniscus in his left knee during practice on Friday. 

A starter for the Huskies, Polley was coming off his best game of the season against Tulane, where he totaled a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds on 7-of-15 shooting.

Overall, Polley is averaging 9.5 points and 3.2 rebounds this season, while shooting 42 percent from the field. 

Alterique Gilbert will likely take over for Polley in the starting rotation when they take on No. 23 Wichita State on Sunday at 12 p.m.

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The UConn Huskies are hoping to have a Hockey East playoff spot, but this season's second half will give them a new beginning for a push behind their young talent.

In 2012, UConn announced it would be moving from Atlantic Hockey to Hockey East beginning in the 2014-15 season. UConn started its new era with a new coach, Mike Cavanaugh. Since the move, UConn has yet to win a conference playoff game, with its best season under Cavanaugh coming in 2017-18 when it tied for fifth in the conference.

UConn showed promise last year when it knocked off No. 2 UMass in the season finale, and that was the highest-ranked opponent UConn has defeated.

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UConn head coach Geno Auriemma received some criticism from the media and online after he called a few of his players "dummies" coming off the Huskies' loss to Baylor on Thursday, which ended their 98 game home win streak.

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Megan Walker scored 22 points and Christyn Williams had 21 as top-ranked UConn responded to its first loss of the season with a 91-51 rout of Houston on Saturday.

Crystal Dangerfield (17 points) and Olivia Nelson-Ododa (13) also hit double figures for the Huskies (13-1, 4-0 American), who have gone 975 games over 27 years without losing twice in a row.

Dorian Branch scored 13 points to lead Houston (8-9, 1-2), which has lost three of its last four games.

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Feb 24, 2019; Hartford, CT, USA; Former Connecticut Huskies head coach Jim Calhoun along with his Huskies 1999 NCAA Championship team (not pictured) were honored on the court during halftime between the Huskies and the Cincinnati Bearcats at XL Center. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)
Feb 24, 2019; Hartford, CT, USA; Former Connecticut Huskies head coach Jim Calhoun along with his Huskies 1999 NCAA Championship team (not pictured) were honored on the court during halftime between the Huskies and the Cincinnati Bearcats at XL Center. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)

Jim Calhoun left coaching in 2012 after a legendary career that saw him win 873 career games between UConn and Northeastern. 

But he returned to the coaching ranks in 2018 at a much lower-profile program, D-III University of St. Joseph in West Hartford, Conn. 

On Friday, his Blue Jays defeated Pratt Institute by a score of 105-61, giving Calhoun his 900th NCAA win. He joins Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim and Bob Knight as the only coaches to coach at least 10 seasons in Division I and reach 900 victories.

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In a battle of two top-10 teams, UConn and Baylor went back and forth for most of the night on Thursday, but the Lady Bears eventually pulled away in the fourth quarter, handing UConn their first home loss since March 2013.

Following the 74-58 loss, UConn head coach Geno Auriemma explained that the first four minutes of the final quarter really made the difference in the game. 

"I was telling them that I thought for about 30 minutes, I thought we battled pretty good," Auriemma said. "Our offense was good, we were getting good shots, we weren't making a bunch of them, but we were putting enough pressure on them.

"And then in that fourth quarter, those first five minutes we got a bunch of stops, we got a bunch of stops, we got a bunch of stops, but then we came down and we didn't get anything to go. We couldn't get a shot to drop. I think those five minutes kind of demoralized our team." 

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SNY's Jeane Coakley and Meghan Culmo discussed UConn's first home loss since 2013, after the Huskies fell to Baylor 74-58.

"UConn stayed with Baylor for three quarters," Culmo said. "And then, you can't go for five minutes without scoring. You can't score six points in the fourth quarter, 24 points in the second half alone, and expect to win."

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Tea Cooper scored 27 points and No. 6 Baylor used a dominant fourth quarter to beat top-ranked UConn 74-58 on Thursday night, ending the Huskies' 98-game home winning streak.

UConn fell one victory short of tying its own NCAA record of 99 in a row at home. The Huskies previous loss at home came in the Big East final against Notre Dame on March 12, 2013.

Baylor (12-1) led by three going into the fourth quarter and neither team could get much going on offense in the first few minutes of the final period. The Huskies cut the deficit to one on Christyn Williams' jumper with 6:36 left. Then the defending national champions took over.

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STORRS, Conn. (AP) Tyler Polley had 19 points and a career high 11 rebounds to lead UConn to a 67-61 win over Tulane Wednesday night, giving the Huskies their first conference win this season.

Christian Vital (14 points), Alterique Gilbert (11) and Josh Carlton (10), also reached double figures for the Huskies (10-5, 1-2 American), who snapped a two-game losing streak.

Connecticut dominated underneath, outrebounding Tulane 46-29 and scoring 19 second-chance points.

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We're getting to know players from UConn, Quinnipiac, Sacred Heart and Yale ahead of SNY's Connecticut Ice tournament on Jan. 25-26.


Name: Adam Karashik

School: UConn

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UConn improved to 12-0 on the season after beating SMU 80-42 on Sunday afternoon.

Senior Kyla Irwin has started the past seven games for the Huskies, and scored a career-high 14 points and added in seven assists in the win. Afterwards, head coach Geno Auriemma was proud of the way Irwin has played.

"Kyla spent the first few years at Connecticut trying to be somebody else and prove that she belonged there, and that just kept backfiring on her," Auriemma said. "Now she's finally realized `I'm just going to do what I do well and stick with that.' "

 

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