STORRS, Conn. — UConn coach Geno Auriemma sees more poise in Olivia Nelson-Ododa’s play this season.
The junior center was a perfect 9-for-9 from the floor Thursday in leading the third-ranked Huskies to an 80-47 rout of Creighton. Her 24 points were just three shy of her career high. She has opened the season scoring in double digits in all three games.
“I think the coaches have made the emphasis on just playing in a more relaxed state, definitely more calm,” Nelson-Ododa said. “And I think not only just me, but as a team, that can really help us.”
Christyn Williams added 15 points and eight rebounds for the Huskies (3-0, 2-0 Big East) in their Big East home opener. Anna Makurat scored 12 points and freshman Paige Bueckers finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
UConn was playing its third game in six days after having its first four games postponed or canceled because of a positive coronavirus test in the program.
Emma Ronsiek scored 11 points for Creighton (2-4, 1-1), which lost starting guard Rachel Saunders to a knee injury in the first quarter.
UConn dominated from the start, opening the game on an 8-0 run that included three layups.
Bueckers gave the Huskies their first double-digit lead at 18-7 by following up her own miss.
That was part of a 23-0 run over just under nine minutes that saw the Huskies take control of the game and stretch their lead to 33-7. UConn led 36-12 at the half.
“I thought we had a good amount of good shots in the first half we just couldn’t make any of them,” Creighton coach Jim Flanery said. ” I thought defensively in the first half we were OK, only if we would’ve made a couple of shots. They’re a good team and they will expose you, which is good for us to learn from.”
Creighton: The Bluejays came into the game averaging about 10 3-point baskets on almost 30 shots a game from behind the arc. Creighton was just 7 of 29 from behind the arc Thursday, missing all 11 of their 3-point attempts in the decisive first half.
UConn: The Huskies dominated underneath, outscoring Creighton 42-20 in the paint and outrebounding the Bluejays 43-25. Outside shooting continues to be a concern for the Huskies, who shot just 5 of 14 from behind the arc. UConn came into the game just 9 of 35 from 3-point range (just under 26%).
Saunders, who had been averaging just under 10 points a game, limped off the court in the first quarter. She returned to the bench from the half on crutches with her left knee wrapped in ice. UConn freshman guard Nika Muhl missed Thursday’s game with a sore left foot. She was in a walking boot and Auriemma said she will not play again until after Christmas.
The game also finished with just two referees. The third, officials said, had been exposed to the coronavirus during a game earlier in the week and was removed at halftime.
HE SAID IT
Auriemma said he would like Bueckers, his star freshman, to stop passing up open shots in favor of a possible assist.
“She wants to make everybody feel great,” he said. “Me, if I could shoot like Paige, first I’d get 20 and then I’d make everybody feel great.”
This is the second meeting between the two programs. The first, in November 2014, was also at Gampel. UConn’s 86-60 win began what would become a record 111-game winning streak for the Huskies.