The UConn women’s basketball team proved to have a short-term memory Sunday afternoon after taking care of business against Houston in the American Conference opener, defeating them 81-61. The Huskies were able to get back on track after their 126-game winning streak was snapped, against Baylor just three days prior.
“The last couple of days were good,” senior Napheesa Collier said in an article by the Hartford Courant. “I think we came back focused and doing everything that we need to, and I think today wasn’t the best. We had a lot of turnovers, and people weren’t as focused as I think we need to be, so we have a lot of things that we need to work on so we’re going to go back to [Storrs] and try to get those things going.”
All five starters for UConn (12-0, 1-0 AAC) were able to score in double digits, with senior Katie Lou Samuelson leading the team with 19 and Collier closely behind her with 18. Megan Walker played a much improved game against Houston compared to Baylor. The sophomore shot nearly 50 percent from the field, scoring 14 points and grabbing seven rebounds. UConn will need her to find consistency in her game if they want to continue to improve as conference play continues.
Against Houston (6-8, 0-1 AAC), the game was won in the second quarter, where the Huskies outscored the Cougars 29-7 after a close first quarter. The second quarter began with a block from Collier on Alyssa Okoene and the Huskies would take off from there, going on an 11-0 run through half of the quarter.
As a team, the Huskies shot over 55 percent from the field, but only 26 percent from 3-point land. The UConn defense was stout, holding the Cougars to 35 percent shooting from the field, with Octavia Barnes leading the way with 15 points.
UConn was able to push around Houston in the paint, out rebounding them 41-30. Samuelson and Collier each had nine rebounds to lead the team. Samuelson has said that a point of emphasis this season was to improve her rebounding and scoring in the paint. So far, so good. Samuelson now averages 8.2 rebounds per game this season, while grabbing 10 or more rebounds in four out of 13 games.
Freshman Christyn Williams played a solid game, probably not by her high standards, but she made an impact with quickness. Her 3-point stroke was ineffective Sunday afternoon, missing all three of her attempts, but she was an efficient 6-7 from inside the arc. Her final line was 12 points, five rebounds and one assist.
UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said previously that he expects Williams to be talked about as one of the top freshmen in all of basketball, not just the women’s game. Against Notre Dame, she exploded onto the scene with 28 points and she has shown glimpses of the player that she will become.
Crystal Dangerfield was the team’s leading maestro yet again, with six assists, but she also accounted for three of the team’s 18 turnovers.This is something that certainly has Auriemma’s attention as UConn has always been known for their crisp passing.
The Huskies next chance to clean up their turnovers will be Wednesday night against Cincinnati in Gampel Pavilion, the team’s first home game in over a month. The matchup will be broadcast on SNY and on the radio at 97.9 ESPN.
Michael Logan is the sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.