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UConn women’s basketball survives Memphis, 68-56

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The Huskies held off the upset bid thanks to strong defense in the fourth quarter.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn women’s basketball preserved its perfect record in AAC play, escaping Memphis with a 68-56 win. The Husky lead was as little as three points with six minutes to play before they pulled away late. UConn improves its AAC record to 125-0 all-time after one of its closest victories as a member of the conference.

Crystal Dangerfield carried the team, with 24 points as she made 4-of-9 from three along with four critical free throws in the waning minutes. Megan Walker added 14 points, 9 rebounds, and four steals.

UConn set the tone for its night by turning the ball over on its first two possessions. Memphis jumped out to an 8-2 advantage before the Huskies scored 11 points in a row to take the lead. It wouldn’t last long, though, as the Tigers responded with an 11-0 run of their own to close the quarter.

A new quarter didn’t do much to alleviate UConn’s issues. While the Huskies scored eight more points than Memphis in the second, they only went ahead going into the break thanks to a late three from Anna Makurat. In total, UConn led for just four minutes in first half.

The Husky defense set the tone in the third quarter, holding the Tigers without a field goal for the first five minutes. But UConn couldn’t generate any consistent offense and struggled to pull away.

After dealing with foul trouble in the first half, Christyn Williams came alive with eight points and a few big offensive rebounds which led to second-chance points in the third quarter. She finished with 16 points, three rebounds, and three assists on the night.

Despite UConn leading by as many as 11 in the third quarter, Memphis clawed back with six points in a row to open the final quarter and held the Huskies without a point for the first 3:46. The Tigers got within three points before Dangerfield buried a trey from the corner and it didn’t get that close again.

In crunch time, UConn’s defense locked down and held Memphis to a single basket over the final six minutes. The Huskies found the hoop just enough down the stretch, capped by a dagger three-pointer from Makurat with 1:33 left to extend the lead to double digits.

After allowing 21 points in the first quarter, the Huskies limited the Tigers to just 23 points in the second half. UConn’s Core Four (Dangerfield, Walker, Williams, Nelson-Ododa) scored 62 of 68 points with Makurat accounting for the other six.

Next up, the Huskies get just a day off to travel to Orlando for a date with UCF on Thursday at 6 p.m. in a game that will be televised on SNY/ESPN3.