TORONTO — On a night billed as Kia Nurse’s homecoming game, the Canadian star scored 24 points to lift her top-ranked University of Connecticut Huskies to a 104-52 rout of Duquesne on Friday.
Katie Lou Samuelson connected on eight of nine three-point attempts for 33 points to top the Huskies (10-0), one of the finest university teams ever assembled.
But the night belonged to Nurse.
UConn’s coaching staff scheduled the “home game” in honour of their senior guard from Hamilton whose two sets of grandparents were among the capacity crowd of 2,500 at Mattamy Athletic Centre, normally home to the Ryerson Rams. It was the first time her grandparents had seen her play live in the Huskies blue and white.
The 21-year-old Nurse, whose sizzling 54.3 percentage from three-point range leads the NCAA, scored her first basket — a three — with just under four minutes to play in the first quarter, as the MAC crowd that included Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey and family erupted.
Nurse shot 9-for-11 from the field, and 4-for-6 from long range. She added five rebounds, two assists and a steal before being subbed out to rousing applause with just over three minutes to play.
Nurse was playing on the same court where she led Canada’s women’s team to a thrilling gold medal at the 2105 Pan American Games. She was named Canada’s flag-bearer in the closing ceremonies for her performance.
The UConn women are one of the most dominant teams in NCAA sport, winning 101 of their last 102 games. All but one of their victories this season have been by 18 or more points. And three nights earlier, in UConn’s 88-64 win over Oklahoma, Geno Auriemma became the fourth women’s coach in NCAA history to win his 1,000th game.
UConn’s staff scheduled the game last summer, unbeknownst to Nurse.
The Huskies were never challenged Friday night, sprinting out to a 25-9 first-quarter lead. They didn’t let up in the second, and a Nurse jump shot with 14 seconds left sent the Huskies into the locker-room at halftime with a whopping 54-22 lead.
They took a huge 83-42 lead into the fourth quarter.