Many high-profile point guards have made their way through the UConn women’s basketball program. Crystal Dangerfield is one of them.
On Monday night, UConn defeated UCF 66-45 to win the American Athletic Conference championship. The 5-foot-5 junior scored 13 points and dished out six assists in 39 minutes of play. Head coach Geno Auriemma praised Dangerfield along with senior Napheesa Collier’s leadership throughout the tournament in the absence of senior Katie Lou Samuelson.
But it wasn’t just Dangerfield’s offense that really showcased her game. She was given the tough assignment of guarding American Athletic All-Conference First Team member Kay Kay Wright. Wright averages 18.5 points per game for the Knights, but on Monday she was held to just four points.
“The last two games against USF [and] UCF, their scorers were my matchups and coach told us our defense has to be taken personal,” Dangerfield said after Monday’s game. “We don’t want them to score and, specifically their scorers, we don’t want them to even touch the ball to begin with. I was lined up with both of them and I wanted take it upon myself and not let them score.”
Dangerfield also passed former UConn great Renee Montgomery on Monday night to claim fifth on the program single-season assists list with 202. She remains three assists away from passing four-time National Champion Moriah Jefferson who sits at fourth on the list with 204 assists.
Dangerfield currently owns the program record for assist-average-per-game in a season with 6.13. The closest former player on the list is Sue Bird who averaged 5.92 assists per game in the 2001-02 season. The list of records doesn’t stop there, as Dangerfield also sits at No. 1 in the assist-to-turnover ratio in a single season with 3.30. All of Dangerfield’s records are for the current 2018-19 season.
On Monday morning, Dangerfield was named one of the five finalists for the 2019 Nancy Lieberman Award by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Association. The award is given to the nation’s most outstanding women’s NCAA Division I point guard in a season. The award has been accepted by a Husky eight times, with Sue Bird receiving it three times in her career. The last Husky to receive the award was Moriah Jefferson in 2016.
Going forward, Dangerfield does expect UConn to be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, but said that it essentially doesn’t matter what seed the Huskies are because they still have to prepare and not take anything for granted.
“We’re going to have to go play basketball either way... it’s March and that’s all that matters,” Dangerfield said.
The 2019 NCAA Division I women’s basketball tournament bracket will be announced next Monday, March 18th at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
Mariana Dominguez is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.