STORRS, Conn. (AP)UConn’s fourth game in eight days, coming in advance of a showdown with No. 3 Oregon, had all the makings of a trap for the Huskies.
Crystal Dangerfield scored 24 points, Megan Walker added 21 points and 11 rebounds and No. 4 Connecticut turned a four-point halftime lead into an 80-50 rout of Cincinnati on Thursday night.
Olivia Nelson Ododa and Christyn Williams each chipped in with 12 points for the Huskies (19-1, 9-0 American) as they won their 129th straight American Athletic Conference game.
”You can look ahead too much,” Dangerfield said, referring to Monday’s highly anticipated game against the Ducks. ”We could have easily lost thinking about Oregon.”
Antoinette Miller had 19 points for the Bearcats (13-7, 4-3), who had won four of their last five games. IImar’I Thomas was held to 12 points, almost nine below her conference-leading scoring average.
The game was tied early before UConn went on a 15-0 run and appeared to take control.
The Huskies led 26-9 after 10 minutes, but were outscored 22-9 by Cincinnati in the second.
”I was proud,” Cincinnati coach Michelle Clark-Heard said. ”But we’ve got to play a whole game, follow the game plan and get out on shooters.”
Thomas’s first basket, a turn-around jumper, cut the UConn lead to 26-13 and the Bearcats kept chipping away. They cut the deficit to 35-31 at halftime after Miller’s 3-pointer.
”It’s a tiring stretch that we’re in,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. ”It’s been pretty grueling and maybe it just caught up to us a little bit and we needed to get our second wind at halftime.”
The Huskies outscored the Bearcats 19-9 in the third quarter and 26-10 in the fourth.
Walker, who went over the 1,000-point plateau in the game, was hit twice in the left eye and missed most of the third quarter when it swelled up. She was cleared to come back in the final quarter.
The junior is playing with toughness she didn’t show in previous seasons.
”Freshman year, I probably would have sat out,” Walker said. ”Just seeing that growth now is good. I wanted to get back out there and contribute, even if I had just one eye.”
The Huskies have won each of their 111 regular-season AAC games since the formation of the conference in 2013 and each of the six conference tournaments.
Walker’s double-double was her seventh of the season and 13th of her career.
”Meg is becoming that reliable player that we need, that every team has to have,” Auriemma said. ”She’s going to make big shots. She’s going to play hard, play good defense and get her double double. That’s a pretty good comfort level to have.
Cincinnati made 10 of its 19 shots in the second quarter, but shot 32% for the game and made just 3 of 15 shots in the fourth quarter. UConn went 4 of 16 in the second quarter, but shot 47.5% for the game and made 15 of its 27 shots in the second half.
UConn dominated the game in the paint, outrebouding the Bearcats 47-28 and outscoring them 34-22 in the lane.
HE SAID IT
Auriemma said Walker reminded him of Rocky with her willingness to play with her eye swollen shut.
”I looked at her eye, I thought she was going to say, `Cut me Mickey,”’ he said.
Cincinnati has never beaten the Huskies, falling to 0-22 in the series that dates to when both teams were in the Big East.
UConn has won 202 consecutive games against unranked teams, a streak that dates to a loss at home on Feb. 18, 2012 to St. John’s.
Cincinnati: Hosts South Florida on Sunday.
UConn: Hosts No. 3 Oregon Monday night.