Four straight forced turnovers – two steals and two bad passes – marked the start of UConn’s 82 to 38 beatdown of Cincinnati on Wednesday, their first home game in over a month. UConn took advantage of all four, capitalizing on Cincinnati’s first non-turnover play, a missed shot, rebounded by Katie Lou-Samuelson and passed almost the full court to Napheesa Collier for the layup.
UConn was then up 10-0 when Cincinnati called their first timeout, having out-scored the Bearcats by an exponential amount, and the margin would only get worse from there.
“It’s funny how that works, if defensively you can create some opportunities for yourself, I think it shows on the other end,” head coach Geno Auriemma said. “I think we were more aggressive tonight than we had been in a while, and because the ball went in the basket it allowed us to set up some things we wanted to work on.”
It was that kind of night for the Bearcats, who had eight turnovers in the first eight minutes and gave the ball away on nearly one out of every three possessions. UConn didn’t allow 20 points until well into the second half, and this game marked the Huskies’ first time this year holding their opponent under 40 points.
Forward Katie Lou Samuelson certainly snapped out of her miniature cold streak that began against Baylor, tallying 23 points, 10 rebounds and two assists in a balanced effort, her fifth double-double of the year.
Samuelson led the defensive charge in the second half, forcing two consecutive turnovers and draining a 3 to set the tone of the period, spending extensive time with the second unit in the period.
Not one to be left out of the double-double party, guard Crystal Dangerfield also had 11 points and 10 assists on the night, her first of the year.
“I think I’m pass-first in a sense, but especially when my team is hitting shots like that I just wanna get them involved,” Dangerfield said.
True freshman Christyn Williams started off hot in the first half with 15 points on 6-7 shooting, going 3-4 from 3-point land. Williams would end up with 19 points on the night, her second-highest mark this year, but went cold in the second half, admittedly focusing more on the defensive side of the ball. She played 35 minutes, a team-high, in Auriemma’s effort to get her more experience in conference play.
“I’ve been more aggressive offensively and defensively, it’s definitely a point of emphasis,” Williams said. “I was just comfortable tonight, I was going with the flow.”
Williams was also part of one of the most impressive sequences of the game, an acrobatic play where Dangerfield popped it way up to Samuelson, who flung it the length of the court to Williams, who passed up the easy shot for an even easier layup by Kyla Irwin.
UConn remains undefeated all-time in American conference play and will return to Gampel Pavilion on Sunday the 13th to take on South Florida.
Luke Swanson is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.