UConn women’s basketball defeated Ohio State 85-53 on Sunday in its season opener at Gampel Pavilion.
The Huskies have now won 23 straight season openers dating back to the 1996-97 season.
Sophomore Megan Walker led the team in scoring in the first quarter with nine points. Walker and freshman Christyn Williams both made their first career starts for UConn in the home opener.
Head coach Geno Auriemma is known for saying that the biggest jump for many players is between their freshman and sophomore years. So far, Walker seems to be fitting that mold.
“I show her Napheesa all the time and go ‘look that’s your role model right there,” Auriemma said. “With Megan’s talent, if she gets a motor like ‘Pheesa’s and goes, she can be incredible. It wasn’t there last year and it’s there more often this year.”
As the starters were replaced and more bench players received playing time, it was evident that the starters will be providing the bulk of the scoring for the team. Bench players were responsible for just nine points in the win.
“All we need from them [the bench] is just to come in and give us a minute here, a minute there, two minutes there,” Auriemma said. “And if we can do that, then I think they’ll be a huge help.”
UConn’s scoring was led by senior Katie Lou Samuelson who ended the game with 19 points.
After the game, six-year-old Daniela Ciriello was signed to the UConn women’s basketball team by Geno Auriemma. The ceremony was part of Team Impact, a national nonprofit that connects children facing serious or chronic illnesses with college athletic teams. Daniela signed an official letter of intent next to Auriemma and surrounded by the whole team.
After the ceremony, Daniela’s father, Dan, talked about how the UConn women’s basketball has helped Daniela.
Before the game, associate head coach Chris Dailey was honored at center court for her induction into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
“They really inspire her to stay strong through all her medical troubles and I think she can learn a lot from just being part of the team and being with winners and hopefully they can learn a lot from her about perseverance and going through tough times,” Ciriello said.
Next up the Huskies will play Southern Connecticut State University in an exhibition game at the XL Center Thursday night.
Mariana Dominguez is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.