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UConn women’s basketball grinds out win over UCF, 59-52

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The Huskies execute in crunch time to gut out another conference victory.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

For the second game in a row, UConn women’s basketball needed all 40 minutes to get past an AAC opponent. The Huskies grabbed a tough win over the UCF Knights, 59-52, in Orlando. It’s just the second time in UConn’s AAC history that the margin of victory was within single digits.

Megan Walker powered the Huskies with 19 points and eight rebounds while Crystal Dangerfield added 13 points and five assists. Anna Makurat matched her career high with 10 points, hitting 2-of-4 from three with three rebounds and two assists to boot.

While UConn’s offense struggled for most of the night, the Huskies couldn’t do anything right in the opening minutes. They had consecutive shot clock violations at one point and didn’t score their first points until the 7:42 mark of the first quarter. After the first 10 minutes, UConn found itself knotted with UCF at 13 points apiece.

But like the Huskies’ last game against Memphis, they leaned on their defense when shots weren’t falling. The Knights scored the first three points of the second quarter from the line and didn’t put the ball in the hoop for the rest of the half. UConn shut them out for the final 7:57 of the period and built a 13-point lead thanks to a 16-0 run.

Neither side scraped together much offense in the third quarter as each side made just four baskets. The Huskies kept UCF at arms length and didn’t allow the home team within 13 points.

That changed in the fourth quarter. After trading baskets to start, the Knights ripped off an 8-0 run to cut UConn’s lead to single digits.

The momentum swung from the Knights back to the Huskies midway through the quarter on two key possessions. UCF missed an open look that would’ve brought it within five before an Anna Makurat three down the other end pushed UConn’s lead back up to 10 points and took the wind out of the Knights’ sails.

UCF closed in again but by that time the game was all but over. As the Huskies have done in close games this season (besides Baylor), they executed under pressure and made the shots they needed to earn the win.

The victory is UConn’s 126th in 126 tries against AAC opponents and the team’s 200th in a row against unranked opponents. The Huskies made the same number of shots as the Knights but the difference came on UConn’s five made three pointers compared to just one for UCF.

UConn’s busy slate continues with just two days off until returning home against Tulsa on Sunday. That game will be shown on SNY, with tip-off set for noon.