The UConn women’s basketball team opened its season with an easy 85-53 win over the Ohio State Buckeyes in Gampel Pavilion. UConn extends its streak of avoiding back-to-back losses to 924 games, dating back to the 1993-94 season.
The Huskies got out to a quick start and ran whenever they got the chance, with half of their first quarter points coming on the fast-break. These opportunities to get up the court were helped by the Huskies’ disruptive defense, forcing eight first quarter turnovers and 15 in the first half.
After the frenetic first 10 minutes, the second quarter turned into a defensive slugfest. UConn held Ohio State without a point for the final 8:06 of the half and went 0-for-15 from the field over that same span.
The Huskies turned the ball over an uncharacteristic six times in the period and failed to score for over two and a half minutes. However, they rallied for three points in the final minute to take a 49-19 lead into the half.
The third quarter was a different story, though as the Buckeyes outscored UConn 22-19. The Huskies struggled defensively with fouls, putting Ohio State on the line eight times. UConn’s offense also took a step back with head coach Geno Auriemma mixing in his bench more with the lead.
Even with the strong quarter, the visitors only cut the deficit down to 27 points. With the sizable lead, the Huskies’ bench got plenty of run with only one or two starters in the game into the final minutes.
Mikayla Coombs was Auriemma’s top option off the bench, playing 16 minutes. While she didn’t have a bad outing, she only contributed 2 points and 2 assists.
As expected, UConn was powered by the starters. Katie Lou Samuelson had a strong all-around game, leading the team with 18 points while also collecting 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. Napheesa Collier had an efficient day, scoring 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Sophomore Megan Walker added 15 points and 6 rebounds.
Crystal Dangerfield scored 18 points to go with 5 rebounds and 4 assists, although she left the game in the fourth quarter after her legs were taken out and she hit the ground hard. She immediately went over to the bench but did not go back to the locker room.
Both freshmen were relatively quiet in their respective debuts. Christyn Williams started and scored 7 points while Olivia Nelson-Ododa didn’t enter until the third quarter.
Despite opening the regular season, UConn will play a second exhibition game on Thursday, against Southern Connecticut at the XL Center.