UConn shot right out to a 16-0 lead before Houston scored their first basket, then never looked back.
The Huskies (13-1) beat their conference rivals Saturday afternoon at the XL Center, 91-51 after losing to No. 6 Baylor just two nights prior. That loss might’ve been the driving force behind winning the first quarter 25-2.
“For the most part, I think our energy was good and we shot the ball well,” Crystal Dangerfield said. “Obviously we wanted to erase what happened the other night, but moving forward we just want to focus on what we can control.”
Megan Walker led all scorers with 22 points, scoring 14 of them in the third quarter. Christyn Williams wasn’t too far behind with 21 points, hitting both of her 3-point attempts and grabbing five rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Dangerfield chipped in 17 points and nabbed four steals. Walker, Williams and Dangerfield combined to shoot a stellar 23-for-33 (69.7 percent) from the field and 5-of-10 from beyond the arc.
Olivia Nelson-Ododa was held scoreless on eight shot attempts versus Baylor. She played herself off of the floor by the end of the game. Saturday served as a major bounce-back game for ONO. Head coach Geno Auriemma applied his philosophy that one game doesn’t define you to this situation.
“One game doesn’t define a player, and one game doesn’t define a team. The Baylor game, Liv [Nelson-Ododa] failed miserably, and she knows that. She feels terrible about it,” Auriemma said. “So you have a choice. What are you going to do after that? Start building yourself back up, start putting together some good performances, little by little. Then let the next month sort of define who you are.”
ONO shot eight times again, this time making five of them to total 13 points, adding seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and three blocks.
“My teammates did a great job of picking me up,” Nelson-Ododa said. “It’s not easy coming off of a performance like that, but they really backed me and I think it showed today with how everybody was able to perform.”
While Houston (8-8) is nowhere close to the same level as Baylor, there was one enormous difference in how each game went for the Huskies. The shots that didn’t fall Thursday were falling on Saturday.
“Obviously it’s a different caliber dealing with Baylor than it is to Houston, but we still want to be able to go out there and impose our will on people,” Dangerfield said. “We knew what happened on Thursday wasn’t us and wasn’t acceptable for what the standard of this program is, so we wanted to come out with a different approach to the game today.”
After shooting a dismal 29 percent from the field against Baylor, UConn cranked that percentage all the way up to 54 percent Saturday. At one point, UConn commanded a 43 point lead.
This win kept UConn’s streak of 975 games without losing back-to-back games. This record dates all the way back to 1993, before any of Geno’s current players (or myself) were born. When asked about potentially ending the streak today, Dangerfield replied with a chuckle, “We definitely didn’t want to be the team to have that happen.”
“I wish I could say ‘I coach really well after losses,’ that’s not the case,” Auriemma said. “I don’t know, I wish I had the answer. It’s pretty remarkable.”
UConn will try to build on this win with a few more conference matchups before a marquee matchup with No. 23 Tennessee back at the XL Center on Jan. 23.
First, is a road trip to Memphis, Tenn. to play the Tigers on Tuesday. Then it’s off to Orlando, Fla. Thursday to play UCF. That Memphis game will tip off at 8 p.m.