Last season,Tulane played loose and had in coming tantalizingly close in a three-point home loss against No. 1-ranked Connecticut.
The Green Wave tried that again on Wednesday night at Fogelman Arena, but never had a chance, falling 91-47.
"The thing I was most concerned about was turnovers,” Tulane coach Lisa Stockton said. “If you took that stat away, it would have been a much better game. It's tough. Connecticut is long, their athletic, and they make you do some different things. But after we calmed down, we played better.”
The loss assured that Tulane (12-15, 4-10), which has games left at Wichita State on Saturday and at home against SMU, will finish with its worst American Athletic Conference record since joing the conference for the 2014-15 season.
Connecticut (27-0, 14-0) won its 50th consecutive road game and its 117th against unranked opponents in running its AAC mark to 84-0.
“When we play like we play at home, the outcome is a certain way,” Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said. “When we play like we played the last time we were here, the outcome is a certain way. Defensively, it's hard to score against us. At this time of the year, we want to take it up another notch.”
Trying to shake things up after her team came into the game having lost five of six, Stockton started a new lineup with leading scorer Kolby Morgan at point guard. She was joined by fellow senior guard Kayla Cruickshank, junior-college transfer Taytana Lofton, junior forward Meredith Schulte and sophomore forward Maddison Wells.
However, unlike last year's game, UConn made sure its 18-12 turnovers deficit, which was a factor in it shooting 38.0 percent, did not occur again. Forcing 12 Tulane turnovers in the first quarter, the Huskies won that battle 27-20.
Unlike last season's game, guard Kia Nurse was back in the lineup to help in that regard. Mostly driving to the basket and cutting for layups, UConn shot 66.7 percent.
Tulane began the game encouraging enough, as Morgan made a steal on Connecticut's first possession then sank a 3-pointer 29 seconds into the game.
However, Huskies guard Kia Nurse answered quickly, sinking a corner 3 at the 9:09 mark. Connecticut took over from there, her slot launching a 28-4 run to a 28-7 lead at the end of the quarter.
Forcing 12 Tulane turnovers with its length, full-court pressure and trapping defense, UConn enjoyed a 17-3 margin in points off turnovers. Scoring on post-ups and pull-up jumpers, forward Naphreesa Collier (13) had nearly twice as many points as the Wave, and Nurse had 11.
UConn, of course, began the second quarter much like the first. Even though Tulane began taking better care of the ball, it couldn't stop the Huskies' drives. At the 4:24 mark, Connecticut had a 30-point lead – 41-11 – after a layup by Gabby Williams.
However, that's when Tulane showed it did have some grit. Backup point guard Kayla Anderson was in the game to slow Connecticut's speedy Crystal Dangerfield but mostly to help break the press. Anderson, dribbled in the corner against Nurse, who is 6 feet, then pump-faked sending her flying past her. Anderson then sank a 3-pointer.
Crystal Freeman drove for a basket on the next possession, Sierra Cheatham followed with a free-throw line jumper, then Morgan sank one of two free throws then two.
Tulane played better in the second quarter, turning the ball over just five times in being outscored by the top team in the nation 20-14. However, the lead widened to 48-21 at halftime. Connecticut shot 20-of-29 (69.0) percent in the first half, outscoring the Wave 30-8 in the lane, including 25-7 off turnovers.