On Sunday, the UConn women’s basketball team absolutely crushed the Tulsa Golden Hurricane’s 92-34, easily breezing past yet another American Athletic Conference opponent.
Olivia Nelson-Ododa won the tip, but it might as well have been the game right then and there because from the first minute anyone could tell that Tulsa was simply outclassed. UConn took the lead 19 seconds into the game and never relinquished it.
By the end of the first quarter, UConn was winning 24-6, and their lead only grew. Interestingly, those six points were not even the fewest they gave up in a quarter, as they held Houston to two in the first quarter of their game just over a week prior.
They were up 48-11 by the end of the first half. They could have stopped scoring then and still won by double digits.
“Some of that was us, some of that was them,” head coach Geno Auriemma said. “They don’t score a lot of points to begin with, and I felt like if we could turn up the pressure a little bit and make the game fast that they would have to take a lot of shots, and the first half we really made it difficult for them to get where they were going.”
In the second half, they worked in more of the bench, getting all nine players in the game by the end of the quarter. Megan Walker, Crystal Dangerfield and Nelson-Ododa each left the game at some point in the third and never returned. Instead, the final quarter turned into the Anna Makurat show. After scoring just five points in the first 30 minutes, Makurat dropped 16 in the final 10 on 6-of-7 shooting including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc.
“I’m not surprised that Anna had a game like today,” Auriemma said. “These last three or four games, she’s looked really, really good. She’s getting more comfortable every day, she’s finding spots on the floor where she can be successful, she feels better shooting the ball, she’s getting better defensively. I’m not surprised that she just needed to see the ball go in a lot, and that’s what happened.
She knocked down shots, she finished through contact and, most importantly, she showed confidence, something that had been severely lacking earlier in the season.
“I think she’s putting less pressure on herself, she’s getting less frustrated with herself,” Dangerfield said.
Makurat finished the game with 21 points, six rebounds and five assists in 29 minutes, the second-most on the team.
Megan Walker led the Huskies in scoring with 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting including 3-of-5 from three and also grabbed five boards in just 26 minutes. Dangerfield had 16 points of her own on 6-10 shooting, featuring a 4-for-5 day from beyond the arc. Christyn Williams had 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting, and after struggling from three so far this season, knocked down three of her four shots from deep.
As a team, the Huskies shot 56% from the field and 61% from three, while Tulsa shot 26% and 13% respectively. UConn outscored Tulsa by 30 from inside the paint, 30 in points off turnovers and 13 in second-chance points.
UConn has a brief stretch coming up where they will sparingly play conference games, with just three of their next seven being against American Conference opponents. The other four could be accurately described as the gauntlet, playing Tennessee, Oregon, South Carolina and an exhibition vs. the U.S. National Team.
The first one up is Tennessee, as they will host them at the XL Center on Thursday, Jan. 23.