UConn women are back home on Sunday
Orlando, Fla. — The UConn women’s basketball team had Friday off after finishing its two-game road trip the previous night with a 59-52 win over Central Florida at Addition Financial Arena.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that the fourth-ranked Huskies spent it in the cold of Connecticut rather than in another 75-degree day here.
But back to the positives. UConn will be at home the next three weeks, starting with Sunday’s American Athletic Conference game against Tulsa at Gampel Pavilion (noon, SNY).
“We’re going to be home for awhile and we’ll play in front of our home crowd and get that extra time without the travel,” UConn forward Megan Walker said. “It will be more time to be together and work on the things that we need to.”
“It’s a positive and we have to take advantage of it.”
After taking on Tulsa, the Huskies will host Tennessee at the XL Center Thursday before heading to Greenville, North Carolina, for maybe 24 hours for a game against East Carolina a week from today. They will then entertain the UConn-alum dominated United States national team for an exhibition at the XL Center on Jan. 27, and return to Gampel Pavilion for games with Cincinnati on Jan. 30, Oregon on Feb. 3, and Memphis on Feb. 7.
In a stretch of nine days, they will play as many games at Gampel as they have the first 10 weeks of the regular season — assuming they can find their on-campus arena.
“It’s home and we love playing there,” UConn point guard Crystal Dangerfield said. “Hopefully, we’ll knock down some shots.”
The Huskies shot just 38.5 percent and committed 18 turnovers against UCF and finished in the 50s for the second time in four games.
Perhaps an extended stay at home could be just what a Hall of Fame coach could order for his struggling offense.
“It can be, but what’s more important is to have two or three days between games,” UConn’s Geno Auriemma said. “That’s what you really need. We’ve played 16 games and I think we’ve played 12 (actually 10) on the road. It feels like we’ve played four home games. It’s been a lot. There just isn’t enough time that when something goes awry you have game after game after game.
“These next three weeks will be a good time to get our stuff back, get our mojo back a little bit. We’ve got a day off Friday then one day to prepare for Sunday. After Sunday, we’ll have a pretty good couple of weeks to get things done.”
The Huskies (15-1 overall, 6-0 AAC) overcame a three-point deficit Thursday by holding the Knights (9-6, 1-2) scoreless for the final 7:57 of the second quarter while putting up 16 unanswered points of their own to lead 29-16 at halftime. During that stretch UCF was 0-for-7 from the floor and committed eight turnovers.
On a good offensive day, that would be enough to decide the game. But it wasn’t a good offensive day.
“We played pretty good defense in the first half,” Auriemma said. “You hold a team to 16 points you should be up 20 at least. Right now, we’re struggling a little bit offensively.”
UConn led by as many as 18 in the third quarter though UCF made it work until the final minute. But the Huskies made enough shots and plays to hold on, though it was their second single-figure margin of victory in 126 AAC games.
Dangerfield and fellow guard Christyn Williams played all 40 minutes, with Dangerfield doing for the second straight game. Afterwards, she had ice bags on her shoulder and hip. The senior leads the AAC in minutes played per game (37.0) with Williams second (36.4).
“It would always be nice to get a spare breath here and there,” Dangerfield said. “But I always want to be out there on the floor and this is a result of playing.”
Maybe she’ll get some rest this weekend.
Tulsa (5-12, 0-4) has lost four in a row — all in league play — and 10 of 12 overall. The Golden Hurricane rank 10th in the AAC in scoring, scoring defense, and field-goal percentage. Their field-goal percentage defense is 11th. The one bright spot has been senior center Kendrian Elliott, the team leader is scoring (15.6 ppg) and rebounding (8.9).
For UConn, it’s good to be home.
“It will be really important because these last two games on the road have not been our strongest,” Dangerfield said. “We’ll have a day off and regroup Saturday.”
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