The Huskies have returned from Paradise to take on a gritty DePaul team at the XL Center. Despite winning all three in the Virgin Islands, St. John’s gave them a run for their money during UConn’s 65-55 win.
“There should be more interesting games for us as the season goes on,” Auriemma said in an interview posted to the team’s website. “Not every game is going to be us scoring 100 and the other team scores 50, and we all live happily ever after. Some games are going to be a struggle.”
Junior point guard Crystal Dangerfield has come up big time and time again for the Huskies. In the tight game against St. John’s, her clutch 3-pointer pulled the Huskies within one point before Katie Lou Samuelson followed up with a 3-pointer of her own. Samuelson’s shot put the Huskies up 53-51, and UConn would never look back.
The fact that the Huskies may not win in blowout fashion every single night may actually be a good thing. This team, which has two new starters, will be thrust into high-leverage situations that they will be guaranteed to face come tournament time. By playing these close games, they should be able to learn and grow more quickly, while not being shocked that they are not winning by 30-plus points in the fourth quarter.
However, No. 2 UConn (5-0) bounced back the very next day to blowout Purdue 86-40 and showed why they continue to be the premier women’s basketball team in the country. Senior Napheesa Collier was named the Paradise Jam’s Most Outstanding Player, averaging 18 points and 9.7 rebounds per game.
No.16 DePaul (4-2) are coming off a 124-61 victory against Savannah State. But the Demons fell to No. 1 Notre Dame—who the Huskies play Sunday—on Nov. 17 by a score of 101-77. Senior and former DePaul Defensive Player of the Year Ashton Millender knocked down seven of 12 3-pointers in her 27-point effort against the Fighting Irish. The UConn defense will have to limit her offensive prowess, while battling with her on their own offensive end.
Millender isn’t the only one who can score for DePaul, 6’1’’ forward Chante Stonewall leads the team with 15.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. UConn is out rebounding their opponents 194-168, but Auriemma has said that he wants his team to continue to improve on the boards. Collier leads the team with 9.8 rebounds per game, but sophomore Megan Walker will have to help her out even more if the team wants to improve their rebounding.
The Huskies may try to continue to work freshman Olivia Nelson-Ododa into the rotation because of her size and tremendous potential. The 6’5’’ forward played nearly 20 minutes against Purdue, scoring seven points and hauling in five rebounds. Auriemma has said that she will need to get better and better as the season progresses. So far, she has shown flashes.
The game will be played tonight at 7 in Hartford. If you cannot make it to the game, it will be televised on SNY and ESPN 3, or you can listen on the radio at ESPN 97.9.
Michael Logan is the sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.