In typical UConn women’s basketball fashion, the Huskies dominated the Fort Hays Tigers 82-37 in their first exhibition game of the 2017-18 season at the XL Center in Hartford, CT.
The starting five consisted of Kia Nurse, Crystal Dangerfield, Katie Lou Samuelson, Napheesa Collier and Gabby Williams while Azura Stevens came off the bench.
Nurse led all scorers with 19 while Collier and Stevens both added 15 apiece.
Crystal Dangerfield Commands the Point
After coming in as the No. 3 freshman last year, Crystal Dangerfield had an up-and-down first season at UConn.
But with Saniya Chong graduated, Dangerfield has assumed the starting point guard job. She looks more confident and decisive than a season ago, racking up a team-high seven assists while scoring eight points.
“Crystal is pretty good at getting people the ball,” said head coach Geno Auriemma.
While some speculated Nurse would take starting point guard duties to allow Stevens to start, Dangerfield is a more natural floor general.
“Crystal has more of a knack for [having the ball in her hands],” Auriemma said. “Crystal is slower than Kia, she’s a little more patient. She lets things develop a little more.”
Depth...Or Lack Thereof
After running with a short bench all of last season, common thought was that the Huskies would have more options with four new freshman and two transfers. However, that wasn’t the case tonight as the starting five along with Azura Stevens scored 76 of UConn’s 82 points.
However, much of that has to do with all 12 players seeing the court, with 10 playing double-digit minutes. With such frequent substitution, its hard to develop any chemistry on offense.
“The only negative to playing a lot of players is your offense suffers,” he said. “You can’t possibly run good offense and get great shots every time down the floor and have any kind of flow when you try and play 10 players. It just doesn’t work.”
For UConn’s top-ranked freshmen class, it was their first chance to play in a Huskies uniform. They didn’t do much on the stat sheet, but that’s expected for their first taste of college action.
“They’ll look even better next weekend,” Auriemma said. “This always happens in the preseason, as the games go on they get a little better and better.
Megan Walker saw the most time of the freshmen, totaling 13 minutes of action. For a while, she was the lone player outside the starting five and Stevens to score, although she had just two points. She struggled from the floor, going just one-of-six.
Although she played point guard in high school, Walker played two-guard/wing while either Dangerfield or Molly Bent handled the ball.
Andra Espinoza-Hunter brought a spark to the court with high-energy play, although she wasn’t able to translate that into much on the stat sheet, totaling just a rebound and an assist.
Lexi Gordon didn’t check in until the fourth quarter but took over in the final minute. She drew a charge and then scored and an-one on the ensuing drive.
Mikayla Coombs played just seven minutes and only recorded two rebounds.
Samuelson appeared to roll her ankle coming down from a rebound. She went to the locker room but came out not long after. The injury didn’t appear to hamper her much after that as she played a team-high 31 minutes.
Meanwhile, Batouly Camara missed the game with a knee bruise that has forced her out for the last couple of weeks. Auriemma said it’s unlikely she’ll play in the opener but they still need to wait and see.