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Recap: UConn women’s basketball defeats Cal, 72-61

It was not a standout performance by any means, but the Huskies got the win.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

It wasn’t pretty, but UConn women’s basketball opened its 2019-20 campaign with a 72-61 win over the Cal Golden Bears. Crystal Dangerfield, Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Megan Walker and Christyn Williams did it all for the Huskies, scoring 70 of the team’s 72 points.

In a surprising pre-game lineup change, Kyla Irwin earned the start over freshman Anna Makurat, who started both preseason games. Irwin ended up playing 10 minutes, with no points and one rebound.

UConn got off to a 5-0 start and looked to be on its way to an easy win before going cold from the field. The Huskies missed 11 shots in a row and failed to score for nearly six minutes before a free throw from Makurat snapped the scoreless streak. On the ensuing possession, Cal nailed a three to take its first lead of the game, though UConn quickly responded with a three of its own from Dangerfield to grab it right back.

At the end of one, the Huskies had as many made field goals (5) as turnovers and clung to a narrow 13-10 lead. Dangerfield carried the team through that quarter, scoring eight of those points.

UConn opened the second quarter with a quick 5-0 spurt to give itself some breathing room. Williams came alive with nine of her 24 points in this period to help the Huskies go into the half up 37-30.

After halftime, Walker and Williams combined to score 19 of UConn’s 24 points in the third quarter. Both teams traded baskets for much of the period as the Huskies kept Cal at arms length without pulling away.

Finally, UConn started to gain some distance at the end of the quarter. The Huskies held the Golden Bears without a basket for the final 2:55 and extended their lead out to 14 points, their largest of the game to that point. Cal outscored UConn 14-11 in the fourth quarter but it wasn’t enough to threaten the final result.

Williams led the team with her 24 points while Walker recorded a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Nelson-Ododa did it all, collecting 11 points, 13 rebounds — six of which came on the offensive glass, four assists, three blocks and three steals. Dangerfield scored 14 points but only shot 5-of-14 from the field with just two assists.

With the win, UConn extends its streak of games without consecutive losses to 923, dating back to the start of the 1993-94 season.

Next up, the Huskies hit the road for two games starting with Dangerfield’s homecoming contest against Vanderbilt on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in a game that will be televised on the SEC Network.