ST. LOUIS (AP) — Napheesa Collier loved playing in front of family and friends for the first time in her college career.
The UConn forward just didn’t like being the center of attention during a 98-42 win over Saint Louis on Tuesday night.
Collier had 22 points and 11 rebounds in a game not far from her hometown of O’Fallon, Missouri. Her family purchased around 300 tickets to accommodate fans of the former high school standout at Incarnate Word Academy.
“It was awesome, I haven’t played in front of a lot of them live before,” Collier said. “To have so many people show up was humbling for me.”
Katie Lou Samuelson scored 20 points and top-ranked UConn rolled to its 123rd successive regular-season win.
Crystal Dangerfield added 18 points, and Christyn Williams had 17. Oliva Nelson-Ododa added 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Kyla Irwin added 10 rebounds to help the Huskies gain a 56-31 advantage on the boards.
Myia Clark led Saint Louis (4-5) with 18 points. Ciaja Harbison added 12 points.
Collier posted her sixth double-double in eight games this season.
“There’s more to this game than just me,” Collier said. “All the attention, it’s not for me.”
Collier hit 10 of 17 shots from the field and scored 10 of her team’s first 29 points. Yet the 6-foot-4 inch senior was not pleased with her performance.
“I felt like I fumbled the ball a lot, and didn’t do smart things,” Collier said.
UConn coach Geno Auriemma traditionally schedules a game for his seniors in their hometown. He was happy with the way Collier handled the pressure.
“Outwardly there was no sign of this being anything different for Napheesa,” Auriemma said. “It’s pretty much the way you always see her.”
UConn rolled to a 15-2 lead and never looked back. Samuelson propelled the early outburst with a pair of 3-pointers, and Collier had a short jumper. Williams hit a 3-pointer with less than a minute to go in the first quarter to push the lead to 23-8.
The Huskies, who have made 11 straight Final Four appearances, led by as many as 60 points in the second half.
Saint Louis had won its previous three games but struggled from the outset.
“I give my team a lot of credit,” Saint Louis coach Lisa Stone said. “A lot of fight. No one was afraid.”
UConn guard Megan Walker did not play due to the flu. She remained back at the hotel.
COME ON IN
The contest drew 7,105 fans, the third largest-crowd in the history of the program.
Connecticut: The Huskies will go through a stretch of four consecutive road games beginning Dec. 19 in Oklahoma and ending Jan. 6 at Houston. Auriemma was pleased with Dangerfield’s ability to run the offense. She had a season-high 10 assists without a turnover in 29:36 of playing time.
Saint Louis: All 20 of the Billikens’ first-half points came from freshmen, who combined for 37 points in the contest. Saint Louis played the third of four straight home games.
Connecticut: Will host Seton Hall on Saturday.
Saint Louis: Will host Missouri on Sunday.
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