Sunday afternoon’s game for UConn women’s basketball had three different phases — the good, the bad and the ugly. Coming off a loss to No.3 Louisville, the team seemed uncharacteristically out of sync against Cincinnati.
The last time the Huskies lost back-to-back games was 1993, but at certain points of this game, it seemed as if it was possible. The Bearcats were constantly putting pressure on UConn by forcing turnovers and making it difficult for the Huskies to take clean shot attempts. After the team lost to Louisville, Geno Auriemma said the team has a long way to go before March.
“We got a lot of things missing if you are talking about a national championship team,” UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said after his team lost to Louisville Thursday night. “There’s a lot of things missing on our team that maybe we can fix. Some years you can and some years you just can’t fix them. We got about a month to figure it out.”
The last time UConn (19-2, 8-0 AAC) played Cincinnati (14-8, 6-3 AAC), the Huskies thrashed them 82-38 in Gampel Pavilion. This time the Huskies won 65-55, improving the team’s all-time record in the AAC to 109-0. It seemed as if this go around, the team was waiting for something to click, but it never did. This was the quintessential grind-it-out game where you are glad you got the win, but even more happy to return home.
Let’s start off with the good that came out of the sluggish matchup. Senior Napheesa Collier reached the exclusive 2,000 point mark to go along with 1,000 rebounds, which she reached against Louisville. She is only the fifth Husky to reach both marks, Maya Moore, Tina Charles, Breanna Stewart and Rebecca Lobo are the other four.
Collier led the Huskies with 20 points and 11 rebounds, which was her 35th career double-double. She was able to dominate in the paint, utilizing her refined euro-step, pump fakes and savvy foot-work, which has evolved since she first came to Storrs. As a team, UConn scored 30 points in the paint, which could be where the Huskies look to attack since they are struggling from 3-point land.
Which brings me to the ugly. The Huskies were only able to hit two shots from deep out of 15 attempts. The last time the Huskies only made two 3-pointers came against its tight game against Oklahoma on Dec. 19. Samuelson failed to hit a 3-pointer for the third time this season. Despite averaging a career-high 6.9 rebounds per game this season, her shooting numbers are uncharacteristically low. Other players on the team must step up to ease the pressure placed upon Samuelson this season.
Megan Walker has played better as of late, especially when it comes to rebounding. She showed that against the Bearcats by rebounding the ball 11 times. But she shot a low percentage, 3-for-11 from the field. She took plenty of high-percentage shots that just did not fall. It was one of those games for her. However, she did end up scoring 10 points, which was her third career double-double.
Crystal Dangerfield played another fine game for the Huskies, scoring 17 points and dishing five assists. But where she gave UConn momentum was with her four steals that translated into easy transition buckets. In a game where the Huskies only hit nearly 40 percent of its shots, they needed their defense to spark some offense. The one blemish in Dangerfield’s game was her four turnovers, which was the most since the second game of the season on Nov. 17 against Vanderbilt when she also had four.
“We have some growing up to do,” Dangerfield told SNY’s Justine Ward of what the team learned on this road trip. “We have a lot to work on and we just have to make sure that we are all on the same page. There are times where we get off track and we have to make sure that we’re all together out there.”
Michael Logan is the sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.