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UConn women’s basketball trounces SMU, 80-42

A career night from Kyla Irwin powered the Huskies to 12-0.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn women’s basketball put together one of its most complete performances of the season, dispatching the SMU Mustangs 80-42.

The Huskies assisted on 29 of 33 shots (88 percent) and forced SMU into more turnovers (22) than made baskets (19). UConn scored half its points in the paint and 26 points on the fast break as well.

Kyla Irwin powered the Huskies with 14 points and seven assists — both career-highs. She was a perfect 5-5 from the field and 4-4 from beyond the arc. After the offense struggled against Wichita State, Irwin’s presence on the floor helped to keep things flowing against the Mustangs.

“When Kyla’s in the game, the ball moves,” Geno Auriemma told SNY after the game. “She finds people and she’s able to make open shots. Every time we can, we try to put [the ball] in her hands in the middle of the floor because we know she’s going to make a play.”

UConn jumped ahead early with a trio of three-pointers before an 8-0 run gave the Huskies some breathing room and extended the lead to double-digits. UConn’s defense locked SMU down and limited the home squad to just three baskets in the first 10 minutes.

In the second quarter, UConn’s offense settled in and found its grove. The Huskies dropped 30 points in the period to push the gap from 10 points after one stanza to 27 at the break. Aubrey Griffin scored all eight of her points in the second quarter, including an impressive steal and layup off an inbounds pass.

UConn came out of halftime slow and couldn’t find the basket for the first three minutes. But once a Crystal Dangerfield jumper snapped the Huskies out of the cold streak, they went off on a 7-0 run to extend the lead over 30 points.

Although UConn has struggled to maintain focus for a full 40 minutes, the Huskies finished strong by holding the Mustangs to just three baskets in the final quarter.

Christyn Williams carried the momentum of her big performance against Wichita State to Dallas, leading the team with 21 points on 9-16 shooting along with three rebounds and two assists.

Crystal Dangerfield recorded a season-high eight assists to go with 10 points on the night while Megan Walker totaled 15 points and seven rebounds. Olivia Nelson-Ododa struggled offensively with just four points but still added 10 rebounds and three blocks.

Next up, UConn prepares for its first real test of the season against No. 6 Baylor on Thursday. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at the XL Center and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.