Crystal Dangerfield was robbed of her final chance to add “National Champion” to an outstanding college basketball resume, but she still anchored UConn women’s basketball’s backcourt well in her final season. Here’s how Dangerfield and the rest of UConn’s backcourt performed this season:
The punchline: UConn’s backcourt leads the way to the Huskies finishing with the best three-point percentage in the nation.
While Megan Walker was the best three-point shooter on this year’s UConn team, Dangerfield and Anna Makurat both shot over 40 percent from beyond the arc as well. Add in a respectable 33 percent from deep from Christyn Williams and the Huskies’ starting backcourt accounted for 173 of the Huskies’s 281 made threes this season.
Crystal Dangerfield: If there was any doubt that this was Dangerfield’s team, she quieted them in the biggest moments of the season. She averaged 20 points per game — five points above her season average — in the Huskies’ three top-3 match ups this season. Most notable was her 25-point performance against No. 1 South Carolina, just under half the team’s points. While Dangerfield put the team on her back in Columbia, it unfortunately still wasn’t quite enough to overcome their two-point first quarter.
Dangerfield also gracefully embraced a role change in her final season, forced to score more and facilitate a bit less without Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson on the court. In doing so she excelled from deep, hitting 41 percent of her three pointers and a high percentage of those seemed to come from well beyond the arc. She also finished with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.27, which ranks in the 98th percentile in the nation. She’s likely a first-round pick in this year’s WNBA draft (which is for now, still scheduled for April 17th).
Christyn Williams: Williams was never quite satisfied with her offensive performances this season, a bit odd for someone who averaged nearly 15 points per game even with a slump in February. Earlier in the season, she contributed a lot on the offensive end even if she was reaching the point totals she hoped by finding other ways to impact the game including making great strides on the defensive end. She also notably put on an offensive rebounding clinic in the first half of UConn’s game against Baylor with eight offensive boards.
However, it was clear that Williams — and UConn as a whole — played her best basketball of the season down the final stretch, which made the cancellation of the NCAA tournament even more disappointing. She averaged 16.7 points and shot 52 percent from the floor in the Huskies’ final six games.
Anna Makurat: It’s tough to pick which freshman to be more excited about moving forward; Makurat and Aubrey Griffin both have excellent cases. Makurat has clear potential to be one of the best three point shooters and scorers in college basketball moving forward. Since her first game (January 19 against Tulsa) where she exceeded 10 points, she shot over 44 percent from deep. When she gets hot from beyond the arc — like against East Carolina where she was 8-10 on three-pointers — she’s nearly unstoppable.
In addition to her hot hand on offense, Makurat’s court vision was exceptional for a freshman thanks to her international playing experience. She averaged over three assists per game and ranked in the top seven percent for assist-to-turnover ratio this season, which will likely only continue to improve over her collegiate career. The latter half of her season was remarkable and her future is bright.
Molly Bent: Bent didn’t see a lot of time on the court, averaging just nine minutes per game. However, she still made noticeable strides in her final season as a Husky. She scored a career high 10 points twice this season, including in over 26 minutes of play against Seton Hall with Crystal Dangerfield out. She also provided quick hands on the defensive end off the bench, finishing with a steal rate among the top 15 percent in the nation.
Looking ahead: UConn loses Dangerfield and Bent to graduation but Auriemma and his staff have done an excellent job of restocking the backcourt for 2020-21. Tennessee transfer and former 2017 No. 2 recruit, Evina Westbrook, will join the ranks after sitting out this season due to NCAA transfer rules. The Huskies’ 2020 recruiting class also features three guards, highlighted by the No. 1 recruit and elite prospect, Paige Bueckers. With those additions alongside Williams and Makurat, the Huskies could very well have the best backcourt in the country next season.