STORRS, Conn. -- Katie Lou Samuelson turned toward a television in the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's locker room Monday night to see the final moments of Central Michigan's upset of Ohio State, which followed minutes after Buffalo's upset of Florida State.
"The biggest thing, especially on the women's side, is understanding that you have to be ready to play no matter what," Samuelson said. "When you watch a team like a Buffalo or Central Michigan do what they did, they were probably underestimated by someone and they were good enough to take advantage of that. It's just a warning you have to be ready no matter what because neither Florida State or Ohio State came out and expected them to play the way they did. Anything can happen on any day."
The top-seeded Huskies were a prohibitive favorite heading into their NCAA tournament second-round game with No. 9 Quinnipiac, but knew there were no guarantees. They played like their season was on the line, which, of course, it was.
"Maybe some teams when they become a better program might relax," UConn senior Gabby Williams said. "But that does not happen here."
Napheesa Collier had 23 points on 9-for-11 shooting, eight rebounds and four assists as UConn reached the Sweet 16 for the 25th consecutive year by coasting past Quinnipiac 71-46 in Albany (New York) Regional action before a crowd of 8,957 at Gampel Pavilion.
UConn's Sweet 16 streak is second all-time to Tennessee's 27 (1982-2008) and more than double the second-longest current run. Stanford made it 11 straight regional semifinal berths Monday night. Baylor reached its 10th Sweet 16 in a row Sunday, the same day Notre Dame stretched its streak to nine.
The Huskies (34-0) will take on fifth-seeded Duke on Saturday at the Times Union Center in Albany.
"It's not easy to do, it hasn't happened much," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "Winning two games in the NCAA tournament if you're Connecticut, if you have the players we have and play the schedule we play, it sets you up to win two games and then after that it's anyone's guess what will happen. We're pretty proud of our accomplishments, not just this year but the last 25 years. That kind of consistency is pretty remarkable."
The Huskies' last miss came in 1993 when they lost in the first round to Louisville, which was also the last time they lost an NCAA tournament game at Gampel Pavilion.
So the odds were against Quinnipiac (28-6), which was seeking a return trip to the Sweet 16 following last year's run as a No. 12 seed. But beating Miami in Miami is one thing, and beating UConn here is another. For the Bobcats, though, it wasn't from a lack of effort.
"We knew we were going to give ourselves a chance if we shortened the game," Quinnipiac coach Tricia Fabbri said. "Even with shortening the game, we had more possessions. We were just a little bit choppy with a lack in preparation with changing our whole offensive style.
"Coming out in the second half, we were still within striking distance. I know the numbers were good for us but we needed to make a couple more."
The Huskies never trailed, using seven unanswered points to take a 9-2 edge. They led by double figures for the final 24:32 and by 15 at halftime.
But Quinnipiac did enough to keep UConn focused.
"We knew we wouldn't win it in the first two minutes so we had to chip away and pull away when we could," Williams siad. "It wasn't going to be a game where we'd score 10 points in a minute like on Saturday."
On Saturday, Saint Francis (Pa.) took 57 3-point shots against UConn. Quinnipiac got a total of 56 shots off Monday.
"They thought that way was their best chance to win," Samuelson said. "It was a whole different game than Saturday, extreme opposites. It was a good test for us and we came through it well.
"Our defense was good throughout the whole game. We weren't so much concerned with that but just making sure that we got a good shot every time down the floor. They were limiting the possessions. They weren't going to let us get out in transition. They were sending three or four people back every time. We had to make sure we executed our offense and we did a good job. It was a good test. They were tough. They played pretty well and we just battled. It's great going forward because other teams may try to do it to us."
Ahead 41-27, UConn got a jumper from Samuelson, a 3-pointer from Kia Nurse and two free throws from Azura Stevens for a 21-point lead. It was 54-31 going to the fourth quarter and the Bobcats got no closer, with two more Stevens free throws giving the Huskies their biggest lead at 31.
Stevens finished with 14 points while Nurse had 13 in her final game at Gampel Pavilion.
Williams and Nurse finish their careers 35-0 at their on-campus home. They also become the third UConn class to go unbeaten at home -- counting games on and off campus -- during their four-year careers, joining the Classes of 2011 (Maya Moore/Lorin Dixon) and 2017 (Saniya Chong/Tierney Lawlor).
"It's been an incredible four years here and I'm glad we could end it the way that we did," Nurse said.
Jen Fay had 12 points for Quinnipiac, which was also held to 46 points in a loss to Princeton on Dec. 9. The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference representative's 23-game winning streak was also snapped.
"I think we played a hell of a game and gave them a run for their money," Fay said.
UConn's will face Duke on Saturday for the first time since Dec. 29, 2014, when the Huskies' Stevens was a Blue Devils freshman. The Huskies lead the all-time series 11-3 with eight straight wins. There have been two NCAA tournament meetings. Duke edged UConn 63-61 in overtime in the 2006 Bridgeport Regional final, while the Huskies routed the Blue Devils 75-40 at the Liacouras Center in the 2011 Philadelphia Regional final.
Duke routed host Georgia 66-40 Monday to advance to Albany.
Reigning national champion and No. 2-seed South Carolina will take on No. 11 Buffalo in the first game of the regional semifinal doubleheader at the Times Union Center, with UConn and Duke to follow.