Collier, Dangerfield carry UConn women past Temple

PHILADELPHIA — Crystal Dangerfield quickly glanced up at the Liacouras Center scoreboard and thought, why not?

The clock read 4 seconds — just enough time for her to sprint coast-to-coast and beat the halftime buzzer with a layup.

“We were talking about that in the locker room,” forward Napheesa Collier said. “It just keeps surprising me how quick she is. There was 5 seconds and she was at the other end. I was counting down for her behind her, and I thought she was going to pull up for a 3.”

Dangerfield gave the second-ranked Huskies plenty to marvel at, scoring a career-high 26 points in an easy 88-67 victory over Temple Saturday afternoon.

“She made shots, she got people shots and she managed the game,” coach Geno Auriemma said of his point guard, who also had nine assists and zero turnovers. “That about says it all.”

Collier contributed a season-high 30 points, 12 rebounds and five assists, as the Huskies rolled to their 106th straight victory in American Athletic Conference play. The senior — who has expressed frustration with her shot after tweaking her form this past offseason — was efficient from the floor: 10-of-15, including 2-of-3 from 3.

“A lot of the guys on our team are going through some shooting things,” Auriemma said. “You just need a couple of them to go, and when they go, they go. When Pheesa’s first 3 went in, you knew she was probably going to make another one at some point.”

UConn doubled up Temple, 22-11, in the first quarter and rolled from there. The Huskies led 42-25 at halftime following Dangerfield’s layup and by as many as 25 points in the fourth.

The Huskies moved to 16-1 on the season, including 5-0 in the AAC, while Temple dropped to 4-13 (0-5).

“Hey, we played, we won, we’re going home,” Auriemma said, smiling. “That’s about as good as it gets.”

The victory wrapped up a successful two-game trip, one that concluded earlier than originally planned. Due to an impending winter storm, the Huskies’ tilt against Temple was bumped up 25 hours. A crowd of 4,692 saw the Huskies take control early behind Collier and Dangerfield, who combined for 15 points in the first quarter.

Dangerfield, who had been just 6-of-28 (4-of-21 from 3) over her past three games, converted 10-of-14 attempts — including a four-point play — as part of a feel-good afternoon.

“My teammates were doing a great job of getting me open, and I was able to hit them,” Dangerfield said. “If we can keep getting easy looks like that, I think everybody can benefit from them.”

Megan Walker followed up a career effort against Tulane — 34 points and 10 rebounds — with 11 points and nine rebounds, though she did commit six turnovers.

“She’s getting better, she’s getting better,” Auriemma said. “Sometimes when you see a game like the other night, you think all of a sudden now she’s Maya Moore. That’s usually not the way it works. These things happen incrementally.”

The Huskies will return home Wednesday (7 p.m.) to face SMU at Gampel Pavilion.

Slow going: Christyn Williams had another tough outing. She spent all but 13 minutes of it on the bench, scoring two points (1-of-6 shooting) before fouling out with 1:41 remaining.

Auriemma sounded clearly frustrated with the freshman guard, who in her last three games has scored just four points.

“I spent my whole life trying to change the world, I’m too old for that now,” Auriemma said, sarcastically. “… I just realized I’m not smart enough to change anything.”

Chipping in: UConn’s other freshman, Olivia Nelson-Ododa, had a productive day off the bench: seven points and seven rebounds in 15 minutes.

Dangerfield applauded the contributions the Huskies have received off the bench of late.

“We’re not always going to have our first five out there on the floor,” she said. “Whatever production we can get … is going to be helpful always."

For a cause: Both teams wore shirts during warmups with “We Back Pat” inscribed on the front. The game was part of a campaign to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease in memory of former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt.; @DougBonjour