The first minute of the UConn womenâ€™s basketball teamâ€™s game at Temple Sunday seemed like a continuation of Thursdayâ€™s â€śdisgracefulâ€ť effort against Tulsa.
The Owls led 6-0.
Point guard Crystal Dangerfield knew she had to do something about it.
â€śWe could have easily come out here and let that last game be in the forefront of our minds,â€ť Dangerfield said. â€śWe could have come out flat and let it stay close. We took personally what happened the other night and werenâ€™t going to let it happen again.â€ť
Dangerfield scored seven of her 12 points in a 14-2 run that put the Huskies in front and set the tone for 39 minutes of solid ball. Once top-ranked UConn got rolling it never stopped in its 113-57 American Athletic Conference rout of Temple at McGonigle Hall in Philadelphia.
The Huskies (18-0 overall, 7-0 AAC) are right back on the road as they visit Memphis for a Wednesday AAC matinee at Roane Fieldhouse (1 p.m., SNY, WTIC-AM1080).
Dangerfield is part of UConnâ€™s limping wounded that includes All-Americans Katie Lou Samuelson (ankle) and Gabby Williams (hip) as she deals with shin splints in her left leg, on which she is wearing a sleeve. The Murfreesboro, Tennessee, native played the entire first half Sunday as the Huskies took an insurmountable lead. She came out 1:32 into the third quarter and did not return as the Huskies continued to build their advantage.
She played for only 15 minutes against Tulsa after not coming out against Texas in the Jan. 15 win.
â€śItâ€™s like when you make initial contact with the floor, somethingâ€™s cutting at your leg,â€ť Dangerfield said of the pain that comes with shin splints. â€śI feel fine. Itâ€™s just going to be something that I have to deal with.
â€śI feed off the game, whatever is going on. If things are going bad itâ€™s easy to think into that. But when things are going good, Iâ€™m dealing with it. Regardless, I want to play.â€ť
Dangerfield is averaging 11.4 points and 4.4 assists per game. She is among the AAC leaders in 3-point shooting, assists, and assist-to-turnover ratio.
â€śSheâ€™s playing in control and playing smart,â€ť Williams said. â€śLike all of us, sheâ€™s a competitor so sheâ€™ll be stubborn sometimes and not want to sit out. But ultimately she knows whatâ€™s good for her.â€ť
After only six players saw action at Texas and the bench play was criticized after the Tulsa game, the reserves responded in a big way Sunday. Freshman Megan Walker was outstanding with 22 points, six rebounds, and five assists. But there were contributions up and down the bench.
Only Kia Nurse saw more than 25 minutes of action among the starters, and the Huskies were down one (Samuelson) to begint.
â€śWeâ€™re probably not in a great place right now mentally,â€ť coach Geno Auriemma said. â€śThatâ€™s usually the first sign whenever your team looks a little tired. Itâ€™s generally not because physically something is going on. You think back when you were 19-20, generally the only time you were tired was when someone asked you to do something that you didnâ€™t feel like doing. Then all of a sudden 9-10 oâ€™clock you felt great.
â€śMentally weâ€™re a little bit worn down because it has been a long season, but Iâ€™m sure every team has to deal with that. Thatâ€™s why itâ€™s important to get some kind of contributions from the guys on the bench. If they can continue doing that it will help us.â€ť
UConn already owns a 97-49 win over Memphis from New Yearâ€™s Eve at the XL Center. The Tigers (7-12, 2-4) are coming off a 64-53 loss at Cincinnati Sunday.
â€śWe need to build off of Sunday,â€ť Williams said. â€śIt was a huge setback what happened with Tulsa and the past few practices. Itâ€™s about moving forward and adding on to what we did here.â€ť
For Dangerfield, it will be her first college game back in the Volunteer State, though Memphis is about 250 miles from her home.
Sheâ€™ll get a homecoming game as a senior as UConn starts a series with Vanderbilt next year that will take the Huskies to Nashville during the 2019-20 campaign.
â€śItâ€™s always harder on the road,â€ť Dangerfield said. â€śSo it will be another test for us to see how mature we are.â€ť