HOUSTON (AP) — A balanced offense and a solid defense led UConn to its fifth straight win.
Megan Walker had 21 points and nine rebounds, Anna Makurat added 16 points and No. 6 UConn beat Houston 92-40 on Saturday.
Olivia Nelson-Ododa added 14 points and nine rebounds, Crystal Dangerfield chipped in 10 points and seven assists and Christyn Williams had 12 points and seven rebounds for the Huskies (25-3, 15-0 American). UConn was coming off a 105-58 win over Cincinnati.
“It was a little bit of an extension of Wednesday night,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “If you play pretty good defense, then you rebound the ball pretty well, you get out in transition a little bit more. Then, you are unselfish and make the next pass and people get open shots.”
UConn shot 56%, including hitting on 10 of 26 on 3-pointers.
“You tend to make more shots when you’re open than when you’re not open and when the ball’s moving, we’re a much different team than when the ball’s stuck,” Auriemma said. “That’s probably been the biggest difference the last couple games.”
The Huskies forced Houston into 20 turnovers, which they converted into 23 points and held a 52-22 advantage in points in the paint.
“We had a lot of energy and were trying to build off that energy and keep it going with our momentum, using that as our fuel,” UConn forward Kyla Irwin said of the defense. “I think we’re in a great place right now just getting better every single day, watching film, seeing what we are doing wrong and capitalizing on all those things to get better every day.”
Tatyana Hill had 11 points, and Dymond Gladney had nine points for Houston (12-17, 5-10), which lost its sixth straight. The Cougars shot 24%.
“We didn’t follow the keys to the game,” Houston coach Ronald Hughey said. “Transition defense, winning one-on-one battles, competing in one-on-one battles and just challenging.”
UConn outscored Houston 34-7 in the first quarter, which included at 25-0 run. Walker had 12 points and Makurat added eight in the period.
“Just being aggressive,” Dangerfield said of the first quarter. “Not letting them do what they wanted to do and talking. That’s really a point of emphasis on defense right now is talking.”
UConn led 55-20 at halftime behind 17 points from Walker and 14 points from Makurat.
“They’re a team that likes to put the ball on the floor and attack you off the dribble, so we felt like if we could make them have to make more passes than they like to make, we could have a chance to get a hand on them,” Auriemma said of UConn’s 15 first half steals. “The ball kept going in for us and allowed us to pick up. We were really active that first quarter.”
UConn: The Huskies improved to 135-0 in the American in regular season and tournament play. … UConn had 24 assists on 37 made field goals. … The Huskies have won 209 straight games against unranked opponents dating back to Feb. 2012.
Houston: The Cougars fell to 0-10 against UConn in its history. Houston lost at UConn, 91-51, on Jan. 11. … Houston dropped to 0-4 this season against ranked opponents and has lost its last 28 games against ranked opponents. Houston last beat a ranked opponent on Dec. 18, 2010, when it defeated No. 21 Nebraska.
HE SAID IT
“They’re Mike Tyson in his 20’s. They walk into the gym, and they already have you down 10 or 12 or 14 based on intimidation. You can’t flinch at the beginning. If you flinch at the beginning, it’s over. We flinched.” – Hughey on facing UConn.
UConn hosts South Florida on Monday to finish the regular season.
Houston travels to Tulsa on Monday to end the regular season.