In front of a sellout crowd of 12,528, the largest women’s basketball crowd this season, the UConn women’s hoops team gutted out a 75-58 win over the Kansas State Wildcats.
The Huskies’ already short bench was thinned ever further when Saniya Chong missed the trip with concussion-like symptoms after getting elbowed in the head against Notre Dame. In her place, Crystal Dangerfield earned her first career start, scoring six points with five assists and four rebounds in 37 minutes.
The game started out with a frenetic pace, with both teams flying up and down the court. Kansas State took an early 4-2 lead, but it didn’t last long as the Huskies scored 17 straight to make it 19-4. Katie Lou Samuelson caught fire, scoring 14 points in the first quarter with four three-pointers. She finished with a game-high 26 points on 10-of-26 shooting.
In the second quarter, the Wildcats settled into their game and forced UConn into more turnovers. The two teams traded baskets for much of the quarter until the Huskies found themselves in foul trouble, with both Gabby Williams and Natalie Butler getting two fouls. After only allowing eight points in the first quarter, UConn was outscored 23-20 in the second period.
In the halftime interview with Fox Sports 1, Geno Auriemma admitted he was limited by a short bench and not subbing as frequently as he would’ve liked.
Coming out of the half, Kansas State continued its strong play and cut further into the UConn lead, almost getting it back into single digits. Nahpeesa Collier led the charge down the stretch in what was another strong performance, filling the stat sheet with 22 points, eight rebounds, six steals, five blocks, and four assists.
The final quarter saw fewer points from both sides, with UConn going on a five-minute scoring drought while the Wildcats went three minutes without a basket. They combined for just 21 points in the last ten minutes as the Huskies held on for the 17-point win.
Each team turned the ball over 16 times but UConn had the advantage in points off of turnovers, 19-16, and fast break points, 18-4. The Huskies moved the ball well all game with Dangerfield, Gabby Williams and Kia Nurse all dishing out five assists. Williams finished with six points and ten rebounds as well.
With finals coming up for the players, UConn will have an eight-day break before facing Ohio State at the XL Center on December 19. They will need Saniya Chong to get healthy in that time, as Auriemma used just a six-player rotation until the final minute today, which is far from ideal.
Though Kansas State is not ranked, the Wildcats presented another solid test for the Huskies in front of a large crowd on the road. Geno Auriemma was looking for his team to add some toughness, and so far it has met the call.