Top-seeded UConn overwhelms Albany in tournament opener

STORRS, Conn. -- While it wasn't a perfect performance by any means, No. 1 Connecticut handily beat No. 16 Albany in its first game on the quest to a fifth straight national title.

Five players finished with double figures for the Huskies, who secured their 108th straight win and their 25th consecutive NCAA tournament win with Saturday's lopsided 116-55 victory at Gampel Pavilion.

Albany received admirable performances from guards Imani Tate and Jessica Fequiere, who scored 19 and 16 points, respectively, but it was going to take an army to topple the country's best.

The Huskies' 116 points tied their own first-round record, which they set in 2000 against Hampton.

How the game was won: While the Great Danes put their best forward in the opening minutes of Saturday's game, even an imperfect performance from the Huskies was enough for them to easily advance to the second round. Connecticut overwhelmed Albany on the defensive end, forcing 19 turnovers on 12 steals -- many of which led to easy fast-break baskets on the other end.

Player of the game: Without a doubt, Napheesa Collier was the best two-way presence for the Huskies in Saturday's win. As she has done many times this season, Collier led the Huskies with a game-high 24 points, scoring on the low block against the undermatched Great Danes with ease. While Kia Nurse also poured in 24 points despite early foul trouble, Collier rounded out her offensive performance with a strong showing on the defensive end with 3 blocks, 3 steals and 10 rebounds to register her 14th double-double of the season.

Turning point: After shaking off their own NCAA tournament jitters, which included an uncharacteristic four turnovers in the opening four minutes of the game, the Huskies settled in midway through the first quarter, finishing the opening frame on a 27-11 run to lead by 19 heading into the second quarter. The Huskies never looked back.

Stat of the game: With the exception of their opening-minute turnovers, the Huskies were able to keep the Great Danes scrambling for much of the game, with exceptional ball movement. Connecticut totaled 34 assists on 43 field goals.

X factor: While the Huskies had their way with the Great Danes in just about every offensive and defensive category, UConn outscored Albany 52-18 in the paint.

What's next: The Huskies will face the winner of No. 8 Syracuse vs. No. 9 Iowa State in the second round Monday. Should the Orange win, Monday's game would be a rematch of last year's NCAA championship final in which UConn won decisively 82-51 to cap its fourth straight national championship.

The last time the Cyclones and the Huskies met in the NCAA tournament was the Sweet 16 in 2010, when Maya Moore scored 25 points en route to a 74-36 UConn victory -- the Huskies' 75th straight win at the time. But their tournament history doesn't end there. In 1999, Cyclones coach Bill Fennelly handed Geno Auriemma his first Sweet 16 loss, in a comeback victory over the top-seeded Huskies.