Clutch: Dangerfield's two free throws with 8.3 seconds left keeps UConn women's basketball undefeated

Published on Tuesday, 16 January 2018 18:19
Written by CARL ADAMEC

JOURNAL INQUIRER

AUSTIN, Texas - When the UConn women’s basketball team lost to Mississippi State last March 31, Crystal Dangerfield could only watch the heartbreaking end from the bench.

She was determined the next time the Huskies’ needed a play to be made to win a game, she would be on the floor ready to help get it done.

“She’s talked to me about this several times, and when she does it’s about how little she was able to contribute at crunch time last year,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “She was not happy about it. She talked about how she wasted a lot of her freshman year. That wasn’t going to happen again. Things don’t change unless you make a concerted effort to change them and she has.”

With UConn trying to protect a two-point lead in the final minute against Texas Monday night, Dangerfield wanted the ball. More important, her All-American and all-conference award winning teammates wanted her to have it as well.

The sophomore point guard sank two free throws with 8.3 seconds to give her team a two-possession lead and No. 1 UConn survived an inspired effort from ninth-ranked Texas to take home a 75-71 non-league win before an announced crowd of 11,877 at the Frank Erwin Center.

“I got her the ball as fast as I could because I knew she would make those two,” UConn All-American Katie Lou Samuelson said. “I trust her. It’s not the easiest thing to do to make those, but we were confident because we knew how consistent she’s been in pressure situations in practice and games this season. It’s not based on last year. It’s what she’s done this year and it’s been crucial for us. She shows her toughness each day.”

Dangerfield played 40 minutes and finished with 11 points. Samuelson had a game-high 19 points but had missed two free throws seconds earlier that would have given the Huskies a little room for comfort.

But with the eyes of the 12th largest crowd in Texas history and a national television audience on her, the Murfreesboro, Tennessee, native’s free throws hit nothing but net.

“It’s being calm, knowing I can make those shots, and knowing that I’ve done it a thousand times,” Dangerfield said. “The confidence came from the work we do in practice. We’ve done it so many times that I remembered what it felt like to be successful I went up there confidently and saw it through the basket.

“It feels good going into our huddle and knowing that there’s trust there. I get confidence from the other four on the floor with me. I know someone will make a play whether it’s me, Lou, Kia Nurse ... That comes from our work in practice.”

Azura Stevens came off the bench for 16 points and Nurse chipped in 13 for the Huskies (16-0), who are 16-4 when playing on the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. All-American Gabby Williams had nine points, 11 rebounds, and six assists.

Jatarie White had 18 points for Texas (14-3) and was joined in double figures by Brooke McCarty (14), Ariel Atkins (14), and Lashann Higgs (13).

“The atmosphere was great and we knew it would be like this,” Dangerfield said. “Their fans were loud and we needed to be able to settle down when they went on their runs. We needed a game like this.”



Posted in New Britain Herald, UConn on Tuesday, 16 January 2018 18:19. Updated: Tuesday, 16 January 2018 18:22.