The Huskies hosted their conference rivals Wichita State Thursday at the XL Center, and what first seemed like a blowout turned into a 10-point game with over six minutes left in the fourth quarter.
No. 1 UConn (11-0) pulled out the 83-55 win, but with 6:20 left in the fourth, the Shockers (8-6) certainly shocked the Hartford crowd. Two free throws by Mariah McCully cut UConn’s lead, which was 24 just six minutes prior, down to 10.
“We don’t get tired physically; we get tired of running offense,” head coach Geno Auriemma said. “It’s like ‘I don’t want to pass anymore,’ or ‘I don’t want to cut hard anymore. I don’t really want to set a good screen. Why do I have to work so hard to get open?’ Well because these guys aren’t going to just roll over and say ‘beat us by 80.’”
Auriemma’s ever-resilient Huskies, however, flipped the switch back to “very on,” and ended up pulling far away to a 28-point lead. This was despite UConn’s best player, Megan Walker, fouling out in the fourth.
“When you get a couple of fouls, you have to be smart and you have to pick your spots,” Auriemma said. “Then you have to have people that can step up and cover for you.”
Walker had 21 points, seven rebounds and five assists in her 31 minutes of play. Those players that “covered for her” were guards Crystal Dangerfield and Christyn Williams.
Dangerfield led all scorers with 22 points, also adding seven rebounds, five assists and two steals. Williams, after a tough 1-of-7 first half, finished the game 6-for-13 with 19 points, eight rebounds, six assists and two steals.
“Meg [Walker] fouled out and the game was getting closer, so I figured I probably needed to get more aggressive,” Williams said. “Then my layup started to fall, so that was great.”
Even without considering the 19 points on 46.2 percent shooting, Williams filled the stat sheet in all sorts of different ways.
“I thought this was one of the best games that she [Williams] has played, not just this year, but since she’s been at Connecticut,” Auriemma said. “It involved a whole bunch of stuff other than just the ball going in the basket.”
Geno went on to also give a lot of praise to Williams’ partner in the backcourt.
“Her [Williams] and Crystal were just amazing the entire night. I would have to give both of them a lot of credit tonight for this game and how it went,” Auriemma said.
Williams also commended her point guard’s play against WSU.
“Crystal played one heck of a game today, but that’s the usual,” Williams said. “She does a great job of getting the ball to the open man.”
Aside from Williams, Dangerfield and Walker, the Huskies had just two other contributors to the scoring column. Olivia Nelson-Ododa scored 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting, also recording nine rebounds, seven blocks and three steals in 29 minutes of play. Anna Makurat was the other scorer, recording eight points on five shots.
UConn won’t have much time to reflect on this one, as they quickly head on the road to play against another conference opponent.
The Huskies will play SMU on Sunday in Dallas, Texas. That game will tip off at 4 p.m.
All photos by Charlotte Lao/The Daily Campus.