STORRS, CONN. (AP)Geno Auriemma says this has been the hardest 20-win season UConn has had since the days before they won their first national championship.
But they made it look easy on Friday.
Megan Walker scored 26 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the fourth-ranked Huskies (20-2, 10-0 American) to a 94-55 rout of Memphis, giving Connecticut 20 wins for the 27th straight year.
Christyn Williams added 20 points and Olivia Nelson-Ododa had 19, while making all nine of her shots for the Huskies.
This game was sandwiched between the UConn’s embarrassing 74-56 loss Monday night to Oregon and next Monday’s game at top-ranked South Carolina.
“This stuff (winning 20 games) is hard,” Auriemma said. “And every year it gets harder. And I kind of appreciate it more now than I used to maybe.”
Williams opened the scoring with a 3-pointer from the right baseline, UConn scored the first seven points and never trailed.
Freshman Anna Makurat had five of her season-high 11 assists in the first quarter and the Huskies had the game well under control after 10 minutes, leading 27-11.
UConn took its first 20-point lead at 39-17 on another of Williams four 3-pointers and led 54-23 at the break.
“It was a lot of fun out there today,” Makurat said. “We played as a team. We played together. We shared the ball well, we ran the floor.”
Walker took control of the offense after intermission, scoring 14 points and pulling down nine rebounds in the third quarter as the Huskies extended the lead to 79-38.
The win was the Huskies 130th without a loss in American Athletic Conference play. That includes 112 regular-season games and all six conference tournaments.
“That’s what we envisioned coming into the season,” Auriemma said. “We have three guys on the perimeter that are going to make a lot of shots and we got a kid in the middle that can get us and easy bucket, so we don’t have to work so hard every possession. And tonight, it all kind of came together.”
Freshman Madison Griggs scored 15 points for Memphis (12-11, 3-7), which lost for the first time in three games.
Memphis: The Tigers are now 0-12 all-time against UConn, including a 12-point loss in Memphis on Jan. 14. Griggs had five 3-pointers, giving her 65 for the season.
UConn: Oregon shot 47.6% against UConn on Monday night and outscored them 44-14 in the paint. The Huskies held Memphis to 32% shooting and outscored the Tigers 46-24 in the lane.
The Huskies outscored Memphis 31-6 on the fast break and had 31 assists on 38 made baskets.
“We definitely focused on getting layups in transition, running all the way to the block, running all the way to the corner and then getting motion out of those sets,” Walker said.
Memphis was playing its third game without leading scorer Jamirah Shutes (15,2 points per game), who suffered a serious knee injury in practice and is expected to miss the rest of the season. Coach Melissa McFerrin said other players need to step up.
“It’s going to be piece-by-piece,” She said. “You don’t replace a player like Jamirah with one player, but I like the chemistry of our team. I like the way we move the ball on the floor. We just have to get better from tonight and move on.”
Walker’s double-double was her eighth this season and 14th of her career. Nelson-Ododa had three blocked shots, giving her 75 for the season.
Memphis concludes its two-game road trip with a trip to Wichita State next Wednesday
UConn travels to South Carolina to take on the top-ranked Gamecocks on Monday night.
“They’re big, they’re fast, they’re tough. There’s a reason why they are No. 1,” Auriemma said. “So, yeah, Monday could be another (rear end) whooping like the one we got the other night.”