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UConn women’s basketball survives No. 16 DePaul, 84-74

The Huskies got all they could handle in the second half.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn women’s basketball survived a furious second-half comeback bid by the No. 16 DePaul Blue Devils to earn an 84-74 win in Chicago. The Huskies led by as many as 26 points at halftime but saw the lead dwindle down to just four points in the fourth quarter. However, clutch offensive execution and strong defense helped UConn hang on and move to 9-0 on the season.

In the first half, UConn’s offense had little trouble finding easy baskets. DePaul showed little interest in playing defense which allowed the Huskies to get plenty of open shots and easy baskets.

Even when UConn missed shots, it often got a second chance. The Blue Demons’ indifference to defense was bested only by their lack of rebounding as the Huskies had more offensive rebounds (10) than DePaul had total rebounds (9) in the first two frames, which they turned into 10 second-chance points.

While the Blue Demons are used to trying to out-score opponents, that style of play is reliant on their ability to make threes. But they couldn’t get much to fall from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes, hitting just 2-of-13 from three. At the break, UConn held a commanding 55-29 lead.

But once the second half began, DePaul quickly flipped the script. The Blue Demons opened with a 10-2 run and made more threes in the first two minutes than they had in the entire first half.

The pace also picked up in the third quarter, further playing into DePaul’s hand. The Huskies’ defense struggled to reign in the Blue Demons’ hot shooting, while the offense ran into more resistance from the home squad. UConn was outscored 27-14 in the third quarter as its lead shrunk to 13 points.

The end of the period didn’t do much to cool DePaul down, who opened with seven points in a row to get the Huskies’ lead down to just six. After a Crystal Dangerfield free throw briefly stopped the run, the Blue Demons replied with another three to get within four points.

The two teams traded baskets, but after a 3-pointer from Sonya Morris with 4:03 to play, DePaul went cold from the field. From there, the Blue Demons didn’t make another basket and scored just two points.

At the same time, UConn’s offense stepped up in crunch time and finished the game by making seven of its last nine shots.

Crystal Dangerfield led all scorers with 22 points and hit 4-of-8 from beyond the arc. Elsewhere, it was a night of career-highs for the Huskies.

Megan Walker also scored 22 points and tied a career mark with 13 rebounds to secure her fourth double-double of the year. Christyn Williams also had a strong day on the glass with 11 rebounds — her best in a UConn uniform — to go with 13 points. Meanwhile, Olivia Nelson-Ododa was a perfect 9-9 from the field for 19 points, her highest single-game point total.

UConn’s Core Four scored 76 of the team’s 84 points while Anna Makurat had the other eight. The Huskies had as many points in the entire second quarter (29) as it did in the entire second half.

Now, UConn will have nearly a week off before it returns to action on Sunday against Oklahoma at Mohegan Sun.