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Samuelson, Dangerfield lead UConn woman to 98-65 win over Dayton.

POSTED November 24, 2016
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

STORRS: The Dayton Flyers had an idea coming into their contest against the second ranked UConn Huskies on Tuesday night and were delivering on it with just over four minutes gone in the first quarter when they jumped out to a 10-5 lead.

The idea revolved around attacking an area that teams have not found very favorable over the past four years when names like Stewie and Tuck made those locations inaccessible.

It was working at first for the visitors until the smallest player on the court showed up and by energy alone, helped her team plug the hole while supercharging the offense.

Freshman Crystal Dangerfield is quickly becoming a crowd favorite in Storrs and the first year player ignited her team and put them on a run that they never looked back from in an eventual 98-55 win over the Flyers.

The win, the Huskies 79th in a row, improves the UConn record to 4-0 and with each game, the identity of this team comes more and more into focus.

For one, Katie Lou Samuelson will flat out score in bunches this year. The sophomore scored 29 points, including 20 in the first half.

Samuelson was 10-17 from the floor, including 4-8 from downtown.

Off a year that seldom saw players break too far over the 20 point mark with the exception of Breanna Stewart on occasion (because they didn’t need anymore) the versatile Samuelson has scored 28 and 29 points respectively in her last two outings.  

Second, Dangerfield (9 assists, one turnover, six rebounds, two points) makes everything flow. Her energy and vision was on display during that breakneck speed sequence in the first quarter where things started to go right for the home team.

In a three position sequence in the third quarter as the Flyers looked to get back into the game, Dangerfield threaded the needle three straight times on brilliant assists to Williams, Samuelson and Collier in that order to dispel any thoughts the visitors had in mounting a serious comeback.

Her development has been fairly remarkable over her first four games.

“We were saying on the bench at one point that you could coach some guards until they were 25,” head coach Geno Auriemma said. “And they still wouldn’t be able to see some of the things that she sees because you’re born with that stuff.  We used to talk all the time about that you can tell a kid to look inside and they have no idea what they are looking at. She sees everything and the key is throwing the right pass at the right time and that’s not from coaching.”

Without filling up the stat sheet in the scoring column, Dangerfield got things done.

“Look, she only scored two points,” Auriemma said. “But she dominated the game for long periods of time.”

Third, Gabby Williams and Nephesh Collier can be nightmares for teams inside. We’ve seen Williams play above the rim in her first two seasons and even against 6’5” center Saicha Grant-Allen, Williams never backed down.

Collier is simply playing with more and more confidence every time out and on Tuesday, scored 22 points.

Williams had a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds and stayed out of foul trouble, something that had bothered her over the first three games this year.

It was Dangerfield though, that made the 6443 on hand leave knowing they have someone special on this year’s squad.

It’s been a good long time since a first year player has come in and played this well, this early. Her performance in a big spot against Baylor were she led the team with 19 points was a classic coming out party.

UConn’s ability to go on a prolonged run was also brought out in spots with a 12-0 run in the first quarter and a 15-0 spurt to start the fourth sealed the outcome.

Dayton was a tough and tall team but the Huskies demonstrated against Baylor in particular that height is just a number against this group who dominated the boards to the tune of 51-34 including 20 offensive rebounds.  

“I feel pretty good about what we have done,” Auriemma added.

NOTES: The Huskies improve to 3-0 versus Flyers. The last time the two teams met was in the 2015 Albany Regional where Dayton led UConn 44-43 at the half before the eventual champions took off in a 91-70 win.

Two Huskies, Katie Lou Samuelson (Player of the Week) and Crystal Dangerfield (Freshman of the Week) earned American Athletic honors after their 3-0 start.

The streak stand at 79, 11 off their own 90-game winning streak that spanned from 11/16/2008 to 12/30/10.

“If you had told me that we would be 4-0 at this point in the season,” Auriemma said. “I would have been very happy.”

The Huskies are off for the Thanksgiving holiday, having played four games in nine days and get back in action on Tuesday, November 29 against Chattanooga at the XL Center.

With students gone for the winter break, UConn will play only one game at Gampel (December 1 versus Depaul) with the bulk of their games at either the XL Center or Mohegan Sun until the start their American Athletic Conference schedule.

Their December schedule is a top flight sequence of games against Depaul, Texas, at Notre Dame and Kansas State, Ohio State, at Nebraska and at Maryland.

If they ran the table, they could conceivably break the 90-game winning streak at the XL Center on January 10 against USF.  

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