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UConn puts defense on display in win over Quinnipiac

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Crisp passing leads to Stevens' layup (0:24)

UConn's strong ball movement opens up Azura Stevens for a layup late in the second quarter. (0:24)

STORRS, Conn. -- For the 25th year in the row, UConn is in the Sweet 16.

It wasn't a nail-biter by any means, but Quinnipiac did land a few punches against the top-seeded Huskies. Despite the gutsy effort from last year's Cinderella, UConn slowly picked apart the Bobcats and closed with a 71-46 victory.

In its first-round victory Saturday against Saint Francis (Pennsylvania), UConn scored its 20th point with 6 minutes, 42 seconds left in the first quarter. Against the Bobcats, the 2018 MAAC champions, UConn was held to 19 points in the first quarter and the second fewest points (33) in the first half this season.

It was a stark change of pace for the Huskies, who scored an NCAA tournament record 140 points in the first-round rout.

Here's how the Huskies bested the Bobcats on their way to Albany.

Player of the game: Although Quinnipiac held her scoreless in the second quarter, Napheesa Collier still finished with a game high 23 points. She also finished with a game-high eight rebounds (tied with Katie Lou Samuelson), contributing to the 33-21 rebounding advantage of the Huskies.

How it was won: The Huskies made a point early that they were going to pound the paint offensively. Collier and Azur√° Stevens found early success, and Collier scored 10 first-quarter points. The Bobcats wouldn't have much of an answer early on, succumbing to well-placed lob passes by UConn guards. An effective adjustment by the Bobcats in the second quarter stifled the Huskies' front-court play. The Huskies struggled to connect outside the paint in the first half.

Enter the Huskies' defense, which was able to take away Quinnipiac's top scorers. They held forwards Jen Fay and Aryn McClure to a combined 3-for-11 from the field in the first half. In the first quarter, they forced Quinnipiac into isolation offense, and in the second, they forced them to beat them with the 3-pointer -- the Bobcats were unable to find success in either avenue. Fay and McClure finished the game with 18 combined points and 8-for-23 from the field.

UConn shooters found their stroke in the second half, which in turn forced Quinnipiac to step out and expose the paint. In addition, UConn was expectedly efficient with the ball -- finishing with 18 assists on 26 field goals. Crystal Dangerfield and Gabby Williams each had five. The Huskies ended the game with a 28-14 advantage inside.

Stat of the game: Quinnipiac made 16.7 percent of its 3-point attempts. Midway into the second quarter, the Huskies decided that if they were going to be beat, it was going to be from long range. The Huskies cut off the paint by switching from a man defense to a 2-3 zone and dared the Bobcats to take the 3-pointer. Paula Strautmane, the team's top 3-point threat, went 1-for-5. For the game, Quinnipiac shot just 30.4 percent from the field.

What's next: A whole lot of familiar faces for Stevens. The Huskies will head to Albany, New York, where they will face fifth-seeded Duke, which beat fourth-seeded Georgia 66-40.

Stevens was an All-ACC performer for coach Joanne P. McCallie in 2015-16, when she averaged 18.9 points (second in the ACC) and 9.6 rebounds, before transferring to UConn.

The Huskies are 11-3 all time against the Blue Devils and have won the past eight meetings. The last time Duke bested UConn was in the 2006 Elite Eight.