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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Dangerfield makes immediate impact in return to UConn's lineup

About 90 minutes before today's game against Wichita State, I headed out on the court to see how Crystal Dangerfield was moving around in the warmups. While I was shooting a video, she was standing out of bounds and perfectly lofted the ball over the basket and watched as it dropped through the net. I thought to myself that she might have a hard time topping that play once the game got going. Was I wrong or what?

In the early stages of today's near record blowout of Wichita State, UConn was in the midst of a clinic of how to run transition offense when Dangerfield deftly delivered a behind the back feed to Katie Lou Samuelson for one rather artistic scoring play.

"I saw that there was only one person back so I was like, 'why not,'" Dangerfield said. "I think something like that, it throws the other team off so they had to call that timeout."

The basket was part of a performance when the Huskies outscored Wichita State 52-0 in points off turnovers. I went back through the archives and as long as UConn included points off turnovers in its game notes, I couldn't find a game with that many points off turnovers dating back to the 2004-05 season. UConn also recorded season highs with 70 points in the paint and 25 fast-break points. You figured the Huskies would get out in transition early and often after managing a season-low two fast-break points the last time out against UCF. Still, this was an eye opening effort.

UConn fell two points shy of the program record for points in a game in the 124-43 win and the margin of victory was also the second highest total at UConn. It looked like the Huskies would let a single game record for field goal percentage.

"I don't know that is came out of the other day, maybe it did, maybe we just needed to recharge our batteries but the combination of our defense creating a lot of opportunities when we didn't have Crystal the other day we were reluctant to really stretch our defense out, we didn't want to do even more so it was one less body," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "Today I think we felt a little more comfortable extending ourselves defensively and it paid off and we made shots.

"There wasn't much of a drop off. We started a certain way and we sustained it pretty much the whole game which is not always easy to do when you have a big lead like that. Once you get a big lead, it affects them obviously and I am sure everybody on the other team is hoping we start missing. We kept making them and players we were bringing off the bench added a lot so it kept intensifying."

Napheesa Collier led the offensive onslaught with 26 points and had four of the Huskies' 21 steals. Katie Lou Samuelson became the eighth UConn player to make 250 career 3-pointers. She hit five of them en route to 22 points and nine assists. Gabby Williams flirted with another triple double with 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists in 21 minutes. Kia Nurse had 14 points moving by Moriah Jefferson and Cathy Bochain to move into 21st place on UConn's career scoring list. Azura' Stevens made all seven of her shots as she had 16 points in 14 minutes.

However, all eyes were on Dangerfield who missed the last two games as the UConn medical staff felt she would benefit from resting to get the issues with shin splints under control.

"It is always frustrating sitting out but now I am just focusing on having fun," Dangerfield said. "This game was really fun.

"I do feel a difference but at the same time, it is going to be what it is going to be because once you go out there and run around, it is always going to come back. It is not like it is pounding every single time but I feel it but I am taking care of it."

Dangerfield finished with nine points, two rebounds, four assists and three steals in 19 minutes as she was on a restricted minutes count something that doesn't figure to be the case when the Huskies play Louisville on Monday night.

"You can't underestimate the impact she has on your team because what she can do with the ball in her hands, she can go wherever she wants with it and she is very creative," Auriemma said. "She is like a great soccer player that sees things one or two passes ahead. She is really smart and she can go places that nobody else on our team can. The difference was evident right away, she set the tone as did that whole group in that first quarter and it carried over from there."



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