STORRS, Conn. (AP) — Kia Nurse scored 29 points and tied an NCAA Tournament record with nine 3-pointers to lead UConn to a 94-64 win over Syracuse on Monday night in a second-round rematch of last year’s national championship game.
Nurse hit 10 of her 13 shots, missing three attempts from behind the arc for the Huskies, who won their 109th straight game and 26th consecutive NCAA Tournament game. That streak includes last April’s 82-51 win over the Orange that gave the Huskies their fourth consecutive title.
Gabby Williams and Katie Lou Samuelson each added 23 points and Napheesa Collier chipped in with 17 for UConn (34-0), which led by as many as 36 points.
The Huskies shot 62 percent from the floor, 52 percent from 3-point range and had 30 assists on their 33 baskets.
Alexis Peterson had 25 points to lead Syracuse, which had boasted this week that it would bring the best guards in America into the rematch with UConn. Backcourt mate Brittney Sykes added 15 and Briana Day had 13 for the Orange, who finish the season at 22-11.
UConn held Syracuse without a field goal for more than 3 ½ minutes early in the first quarter and used a 9-0 run to build an 18-7 lead.
The Huskies hit 12 of their first 18 shots and led 28-11 after a fast-break bucket at the first-quarter buzzer by Crystal Dangerfield.
A 3-pointer by Nurse gave UConn its first 20-point lead at 31-11 and another pushed the lead to 30 at 55-25.
Nurse, who missed the final four games of the regular season with a stress injury in her right ankle, had eight 3-pointers and 26 points by halftime and the Huskies led 57-29.
Her ninth 3-pointer, a bank shot, put UConn up 66-37 in the third quarter and tied her with Purdue’s Courtney Moses, who had nine in the 2012 tournament.
She had an open look for a 10th at the end of the third quarter, but instead found a wide-open Collier underneath for a layup.
Peterson finishes her career ranked second in team history in scoring 1,978, behind Kayla Alexander, who scored 2,024 points between 2010-2013. Sykes ranks third on that list with 1,846. The duo has averaged a combined 42 points and 10.5 assists this season for the Orange.
UConn has advanced to the regional semifinals for the 24th straight season and are now 25-2 overall in the second round. The Huskies also have been to 11 consecutive regional finals and nine straight Final Fours.
UConn will play the winner of the second round game between fifth-seeded Texas A&M and fourth-seeded UCLA next Saturday in Bridgeport.