Dan Rolfes looked forward to having the chance to watch his former player, Napheesa Collier, and the University of Connecticut women's basketball team play.

But throughout the 6-foot-1 forward's All-American sophomore season he kept having flashbacks to their time at Incarnate Word Academy in St. Louis when the Rolfes-coached Red Knights captured three straight Missouri Class 4A state championships.

"It's so amazing," Rolfes said during a break in the United States U-16 national team trials in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he served as a court coach. "I'd sit there and watch with my assistants and it's so much like Incarnate Word with the high-percentage shots, a lot of times defending the post because of her size, being able to guard a guard or guard a post. What I saw this year was what I saw at Incarnate.

"She's the type of kid that is going to do whatever is needed to win. She's not enamored with stats. She just wants to win. The thing about Napheesa is she does a lot of things to help the team win. It's different from game to game. But she can fill so many roles, it's amazing."

Collier played her freshman year at Jefferson City High before transferring to Incarnate Word. In her three seasons under Rolfes, the Red Knights compiled a 91-3 record with the three state titles and Collier became a consensus All-American and the two-time (2013, 2015) Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year. She signed to play at UConn in November, 2014, about seven months after making her verbal commitment following her official recruiting visit.

She was named to the 2016 American Athletic Conference all-freshman team, even though she played the season with a torn labrum in her right hip that would require surgery. A healthy Collier would emerge as one of the top players in the country.

As a sophomore, she averaged 20.4 points on 67.8 percent shooting from the floor and 81.8 percent shooting from the foul line -- one of the most efficient offensive seasons in UConn history -- and became the seventh Huskies sophomore to reach the 1,000-point plateau.

She topped the league in scoring, field-goal percentage and blocked shots (2.1) while ranking third in rebounds (9.1). She was voted the AAC Co-Player of the Year with teammate Katie Lou Samuelson, was named to the league all-tournament team and the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Bridgeport Regional, and was a consensus first-team All-American. She will be inducted into the Huskies of Honor program at Gampel Pavilion on her Senior Day.

Even Rolfes, who knows her game as well as anyone, wonders what the next step is.

"A lot of people question her 3-point range, but she has great 3-point range," Rolfes said. "She takes such high-percentage shots ... When she's wide open she'll take the 3 but she has such a knack of getting open in the paint or taking her kid to the basket or getting an offensive rebound and scoring.

"I'm curious to see what the next jump is for her. But she's always taken it, ever since I had her at Incarnate and every year she's been at UConn."

UConn's 2017-18 non-conference schedule is set but the Huskies are hopeful of putting a homecoming game together for Collier during her senior season of 2018-19.

"You know what is so neat about Napheesa?" Rolfes said. "I see it in St. Louis. She has a whole city watching women's basketball and paying attention to women's basketball. They never would have paid attention to it if it was not for her. She made so many fans because she's a great player and a great person. She turned so many on to women's basketball, which is awesome."

Rolfes owns a 497-75 record at Incarnate Word with seven state championships.

After winning three in a row from 2013-15, the Red Knights fell short in 2016 but regained the title in 2017. Sonya Morris had 17 points as Incarnate Word eolled to a 59-37 victory over St. Pius X of Kansas City in the final to complete a 28-4 campaign.

"It's our goal every year, obviously," Rolfes said. "When you lose a player like Napheesa, you don't know if you're going to win another one because she did so much for us."

Rolfes' appearance at the United States Olympic Training Center was his first for USA Basketball. The U-16 team is coached by former UConn star Carla Berube from Tufts University. Berube served as a court coach at the 2016 U-17 trials.

Team USA will take part in the FIBA Americas Championship June 7-11 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

"It's a huge honor for me to be working with the highest level of basketball, USA Basketball," Rolfes said. "It doesn't get better than this. And once you get out here, to work with these players who are so hungry ... To be a part of it is a great experience."

The 12-player USA roster is made up of guards Paige Bueckers, Caitlin Clark, Zia Cooke, Azzi Fudd, Jordyn Oliver, and Celeste Taylor, and forwards Fran Belibi, Aliyah Boston, Sam Brunelle, Jordan Horston, Diamond Miller, and Kylee Watson.


LISTER JOINS DEPAUL STAFF

During her second year as a graduate assistant on coach Geno Auriemma's coaching staff at UConn, Jasmine Lister participated with and organized a practice team to work against the United States senior national team candidates during a training camp held in Storrs.

One person who paid attention to Lister's work that February, 2016, week was DePaul coach Doug Bruno -- Auriemma's national team assistant.

"Her leadership and coaching ability jumped out at me and made me take notice," Bruno said in a statement. "I went up to Geno afterwards and asked who she was."

Bruno was impressed. On Thursday, Lister was named as an assistant coach at DePaul. She replaces Bart Brooks, who recently took the head coaching position at Belmont. The Corona, California native was an assistant at the University of Washington last season.

"Next to the people on our staff here, the Division I staff I'm closest to is UConn with all the time we've worked together on Olympic teams the last 10 years," Bruno said. "I've gotten to know Chris Dailey, Shea Ralph and Marisa Mosely quite well. Jas was an assistant coach last season with Mike Neighbors at Washington, who has taken the job at Arkansas which made her available. Mike gave her the highest recommendation, as did Geno."

Lister was a point guard at Vanderbilt and led the Commodores to four NCAA tournament appearances. She also played for the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks in 2015. In her two years as a graduate assistant at UConn, the Huskies were 76-1 and won two national championships.

Last season at Washington, the west-coast Huskies reached the NCAA Sweet 16 and Lister got to work with consensus national Player of the Year and NCAA all-time leading scorer Kelsey Plum.

"As an addition to our staff Jas just brought a new energy," Plum said at the Final Four. "She works extremely hard and I don't know people know that about her. She is a young, bright mind in this game. Her future is going to be special."

UConn will visit DePaul on Dec. 8.

AAC TOURNAMENT STAYS AT MOHEGAN SUN

The AAC and Mohegan Sun Arena have agreed to a three-year agreement through 2020 for Mohegan Sun to host the league women's basketball tournament. The event has been held in Uncasville, Connecticut, since the AAC's inception in 2014.

"We are pleased that we are continuing our partnership with Mohegan Sun Arena," AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. "Our women's championship has become the premier tournament in the country, thanks to our terrific fan support and thanks to the outstanding venue and the hospitality of everyone at Mohegan Sun. Our large crowds have enjoyed watching our teams compete, and our student-athletes, coaches and fans look forward to this great event each year."

One change in the event is that the tournament will run Saturday through Tuesday. The first four championship games were played on a Monday.

The 2018 event will start with first-round games Saturday, March 3, and continue until the final on Tuesday, March 6. The AAC has averaged 30,334 fans during the four days of the championship and has led Division I conferences in overall tournament attendance in three of the last four years.

UConn is 12-0 in AAC tournament play at Mohegan Sun Arena and 15-0 in the building overall. The Huskies have beaten UCLA, Florida State, and Texas in the Hall of Fame Women's Holiday Showcase at the casino.

The fourth annual showcase will be held Tuesday, Dec. 19, with UConn taking on Oklahoma. The contest is the first of a four-game deal between the Huskies and Sooners.

Tags: Napheesa Collier, Carl Adamec
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) Monty Scott scored 25 points and Nate Pierre-Louis added 23 points, both of which were career-highs, to help Temple to a 93-89 double-overtime win over UConn on Thursday night.

Quinton Rose added 15 points and Alani Moore II scored 14 for the Owls (14-12, 6-7 American Athletic Conference).

Christian Vital tallied 21 points and Isaiah Whaley had 18 points and 14 rebounds for the Huskies (14-12, 5-8). UConn was playing its first game without freshman big man Akok Akok, who tore his left Achilles' early in Sunday's 64-61 home victory over Memphis.

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The UConn Huskies rolled to a 74-31 win over the Tulane Green Wave on Wednesday night.

With the win, UConn secured at least a share of the AAC regular-season title, improving to 22-3 on the season. 

After the game, head coach Geno Auriemma praised Megan Walker, who tied for the team lead with 18 points, but also played stellar defense throughout the game against Tulane leading scorer Krystal Freeman, who scored just seven points. 

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Anna Makurat and Megan Walker each scored 18 points and No. 6 UConn secured a share of its seventh straight American Athletic Conference regular-season title Wednesday night with a 74-31 rout of Tulane.

Olivia Nelson-Ododa recorded her sixth double-double of the season, her first since December, scoring 10 points and grabbing 11 rebounds for the Huskies (22-3, 12-0 American).

UConn, which this week fell from Top 5 in the ranking for the first time since February, 2007, has won all of its 114 regular-season conference games since the formation of the AAC and all six conference tournaments.

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After going down with an injury in the opening minute of Sunday's win against Memphis, UConn confirmed on Monday that forward Akok Akok would miss the remainder of the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon, and on Tuesday, the school announced that he had underwent successful surgery to repair the tendon.

"Akok is resting comfortably and, barring any unforeseen circumstances, is expected to return to campus on Wednesday, where his recovery and rehabilitation will be monitored by the UConn medical and athletic training staff," the school announced.

"Just proud of the way the guys fought and the character they showed," an emotional head coach Dan Hurley said after Sunday's game. "So it was a big win, obviously, but that doesn't feel like there's no joy in it when something like that happens in the first minute. So sports are brutal sometimes. Life is brutal sometimes."

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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 19:12 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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