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women’s basketball UConn takeaways: Transition offense lethal in win over DePaul

November 29, 2018

In their final tune-up before Sunday’s 1 v. 2 showdown with defending national champion Notre Dame, the UConn women cruised past No. 16 DePaul 99-63 on Wednesday at the XL Center in Hartford.

All five starters scored in double figures for the Huskies (6-0), led by Napheesa Collier’s 24 points.

Here’s five takeaways on the resounding win.

Defense does enough: There are times when missed shots are the product of a smothering, no-nonsense defense. Wednesday, for the most part, was not one of those times. This wasn’t a vintage defensive effort, but it wasn’t a particularly poor one, either. Coach Geno Auriemma said as much after the game: “Any time people miss a lot of shots, everyone automatically assumes your defense was really, really good. Sometimes it’s just they miss. … Our defense is usually pretty good, but they got a lot of shots they wanted to get.”

Even after a porous start, in which they hit just 3-of-17 3-point attempts in the first quarter, the Blue Demons just kept shooting. Overall, they took 44 shots from beyond the arc — slightly above their season-average of 38.1 — and made just 12. With that level of inefficiency, the Blue Demons stood no chance against a far superior team.

Lethal in the open court: The Huskies were willing to run, just not at DePaul’s frantic pace. Still, they were able to effectively attack the Blue Demons in transition, outscoring them 23-4 in fast-break points.

More than a few of those buckets came on quick outlet passes. On one particular play, Katie Lou Samuelson inbounded a three-quarter court heave to Napheesa Collier for an easy layup. It was a pass that would’ve made fellow Mater Dei alum Matt Barkley proud.

“We talked about how we actually got that two years ago (in a 91-46 win over DePaul) at our home court,” Samuelson said. “We got a couple of those.”

More bumps and bruises: Batouly Camara’s injury (sprained right MCL) further depletes what little depth the Huskies already had in the frontcourt. And there doesn’t appear to be any help in sight.

Neither Kyla Irwin nor Olivia Nelson-Ododa had a particularly good night off the bench against DePaul. In fact, Nelson-Ododa, a 6-foot-4 freshman, was whistled for five fouls in just nine minutes.

They do it again: How does a team win 121 straight regular-season games? Well, for one, by avoiding letdowns.

The Huskies were able to move their attention on Sunday’s mega rematch with No. 1 Notre Dame to the backburner and focus on DePaul. They put away the Blue Demons — a pretty talented team, by the way — early, outscoring them 32-15 in the first quarter.

Nights like Wednesday speak to the remarkable consistency that the Huskies have enjoyed under Auriemma.

Dangerfield delivers: Crystal Dangerfield finds ways to impact the game even when she’s not scoring. That’s the brilliance of the junior point guard, who contributed seven assists, four rebounds and three steals in addition to 12 points.

dbonjour@ctpost.com; @DougBonjour

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