Women’s Basketball: Huskies handle Houston with Texas matchup looming

 UConn forward Gabby Williams receives a pass from Crystal Dangerfield in the Huskies' 80-44 win over the UCF Knights on Tuesday, Jan. 9 at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Connecticut. (Charlotte Lao, Associate Photo Editor/The Daily Campus)

UConn forward Gabby Williams receives a pass from Crystal Dangerfield in the Huskies' 80-44 win over the UCF Knights on Tuesday, Jan. 9 at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Connecticut. (Charlotte Lao, Associate Photo Editor/The Daily Campus)

The UConn women’s basketball team put on a show Saturday afternoon at the H&PE Arena in Houston, Texas, dominating the Houston Cougars in a 95-35 victory just days before they take on the No. 7 Texas Longhorns in Austin.

The No. 1-ranked Huskies (15-0, 5-0 the American) got off to a hot start out of the gates, setting the tempo with seven steals and eight points off turnovers in the first quarter. The Cougars (14-5, 3-2 the American), who aren’t opposed to playing at a fast pace themselves, could not keep up with UConn as the Huskies capitalized on nearly every Houston mistake to take a 23-4 lead into the second quarter.

Defensively, UConn forced 28 turnovers overall and held the Cougars to just 20 percent shooting from the field and 15 percent from beyond the arc. The Huskies ended with 38 points off Houston’s turnovers. Houston’s star Jasmyne Harris finished with 15 points, but shot 5-21 from the field and 2-13 from 3-point range.

Sophomore guard Crystal Dangerfield did an excellent job of running the point, and getting the Huskies going in transition when there were openings to get easy points. The UConn floor general also put her fantastic hustle on display, diving for a loose ball after a steal and crawling to help keep possession. Dangerfield had seven of her 11 points in the first quarter and finished 5-9 shooting from the field.

The second quarter was more of the same for the Huskies, who charged on to a 45-13 halftime lead on the back of a 10-point, six-rebound first half from sixth man Azurá Stevens. Stevens finished with a game-high 19 points and 10 rebounds, her second consecutive game with those numbers for a double-double. Stevens also added three blocks on the defensive end, showing off her capability to play on the other end of the court.

Freshman Mikayla Coombs got minutes in the second quarter after head coach Geno Auriemma had discussed his younger players struggling to adapt and play without fear consistently in games. Coombs finished with no points in 17 minutes with one missed shot – an airballed 3-pointer. Coombs did contribute in other ways, however, finishing with three steals, one assist and two rebounds.

The Huskies coasted to victory in the second half with all the starters getting plenty of rest in the third and fourth quarters. Redshirt sophomore transfer Batouly Camara earned her first points in a UConn uniform with a pair of free throws in the fourth quarter. Camara finished with three points on 3-4 shooting from the stripe.

Next up, the Huskies will take on the No. 7 Texas Longhorns 7 p.m. Monday at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas in a battle between two of the best teams in the nation. It will be a good non-conference test for UConn in the middle of sub-par strength of schedule in conference.


Christopher Hanna is the associate sports editor for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball and football. He can be reached via email at christopher.hanna@uconn.edu. He tweets @realchrishanna.