COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)Crystal Dangerfield and Christyn Williams stepped up down the stretch when No. 4 UConn finally was able to pull away from Ohio State.
Dangerfield scored 23 points and Williams added 20 to lift UConn (5-0) over Ohio State 73-62 on Sunday.
Megan Walker added 19 for the Huskies, who had a rare tight game with the Buckeyes.
Neither team led by more than single digits for the first 36:47 of the game, but UConn went on a 9-4 run to go up 67-56 with 2:53 to go. A Kierstan Bell 3, quick steal and layup by Jacy Sheldon pulled the Buckeyes to within six points but they couldn’t get any closer.
”I think the whole day offensively, it was really a slog,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. ”I mean it was tough to get any kind of a flow, any kind of a rhythm. Christyn’s really good with the ball, she can go pretty much any place she wants, and same with Crystal, so we went to them more because we just needed somebody to make plays.”
Kierstan Bell led Ohio State with 16 points and Aaliyah Patty had 11, and Dorka Juhasz had 11 rebounds.
”I was happy with how we competed,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. ”I mean I think that’s half the battle. They’ve got such a storied program, and people can be back on their heels from the tip, but I thought we started the game with great energy, great intensity and we gave ourselves a chance today.”
UConn held a 33-31 lead going into halftime behind 11 points from Williams. The Huskies outrebounded Ohio State 26-19 in the opening half and shot 40% from the field.
Ohio State (3-2) was only 12 of 33 from the floor in the first half, but benefited from six 3s, including a pair each from Bell and Patty.
UConn outrebounded the Buckeyes 43-37 in the game and shot 47.5% to Ohio State’s 35.3%.
”We were kind of taking steps back and not cutting hard in the first half, and in the second half I think we just kind of turned that around,” Dangerfield said.
FINALLY, A TIGHT ONE
The Huskies had won the previous five meetings by an average of over 29 points a game. The Buckeyes were within six points with 2:29 left in the game, A basket by Bell cut it back to seven with 50 seconds, but a Dangerfield layup and a pair of free throws put it away.
”We’re really proud of how hard we played and just left everything on the floor,” Ohio State guard Braxtin Miller said. ”Even when maybe shots weren’t falling and things weren’t going our way, we never hung our heads, so that’s something really great.”
UConn: The Huskies aren’t deep, but their returners stepped up when needed and help the Huskies seal it in the second half.
”They’re a lot bigger than we are, and their size was a problem, and so we had a hard time getting scores inside, so we had to rely on a lot of jump shots,” Auriemma said.
Ohio State: Buckeyes hung with UConn in the first half but couldn’t keep up down the stretch.
”We’ve improved defensively since we started, and I thought we played hard defensively,” McGuff said. ”We played with some physicality and some toughness, and we were rebounding with them for awhile, so we’ve made progress and we’ve improved, and I think we showed that today.”
Auriemma said that center Olivia Nelson-Ododa was playing with a broken toe she suffered off the court this week. They weren’t sure if she would play, but doctors told the sophomore that she couldn’t make the injury worse by playing on it. She had six points, 12 rebounds and four blocks in 38 minutes.
Huskies remain unbeaten so should stay around the top.
UConn: Plays at Dayton on Tuesday.
Ohio State: Plays South Dakota in Las Vegas on Friday.
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