No. 2 UConn wins without Auriemma, routs Oklahoma 97-53
UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — Chris Dailey remained perfect filling in for Geno Auriemma as head coach as No. 2 UConn stated its case to move up to the top of the poll.
Olivia Nelson-Ododa had 27 points, 15 rebounds and seven blocks and the Huskies — without Auriemma — routed Oklahoma 97-53 on Sunday in the Hall of Fame Women’s Basketball Showcase.
The 65-year-old Auriemma missed the game after surgery Wednesday to relieve symptoms of diverticulitis, a condition where the colon develops small bulges that can sometimes become infected.
It’s the 10th game Auriemma has missed in his 35-year Hall of Fame career. Dailey, the team’s associate head coach, took over and remained unbeaten filling in. She coached two conference games last season when Auriemma was out sick.
“I think we played as close to a good 40 minutes as we had all year,” Dailey said. “Today there was no lull, that was a big step for this team. Really really hwappy. Olivia played great, everyone played well. Crystal, Kristin, Aubrey gave us some good minutes. Great way to end this portion of our season and send kids home for holidays in good spirits.”
Dailey said that Auriemma is in good spirits and was on campus on Saturday briefly.
With the win, the Huskies could move up to the top spot in the poll Monday after No. 1 Stanford lost at Texas earlier Sunday.
“I don’t know that we’re the No. 1 team in the country. I haven’t seen enough of a lot of people,” Dailey said. “I’ve known our team when they have been No. 1 and this team isn’t there yet. We’re not worried if we’re No. 1 now. Give ourselves best chance to be in that position in March. Geno said it last week. He was shocked we’re the No. 2 team. I think he’ll be shocked if we’re the number one team.”
The Huskies have been ranked first in the Top 25 a record 241 weeks. They held a slim six-point edge over No. 3 Oregon in the poll that was released this past week.
The Huskies (10-0) got off to a slow start and only led 15-11 after one. UConn was up 26-21 late in the second quarter before scoring the final eight points of the half — the last two coming on a drive by Crystal Dangerfield before the buzzer after the Huskies had gotten two offensive rebounds.
UConn kept the run going to start the second half by scoring the first seven points to make it a 20-point game and turn it into a rout.
“Connecticut played really well and we didn’t,” Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. “Stage is too big for our young team. We didn’t handle the stage well at all. We did things uncharacteristic for our basketball team.”
Megan Walker added 17 points and 15 rebounds for the Huskies. Dangerfield finished with 19 points. The Sooners had no answer for them or Nelson-Ododa, who had a career-high in points.
“”She’s really tall. Really good. We didn’t’have an answer for her.
Taylor Robertson scored 24 points, hitting seven 3-pointers, to lead Oklahoma (7-5), which had won three straight coming into this game.
“I’m probably biased. I have the cutest kids in the country and the best shooter in the country. She’s terrific,” Coale said of Robertson. “Love her confidence. Haven’t seen a stage too big to handle.”
The Sooners came into the game averaging nearly 83 points a game — ninth best in the nation. They had reached 90 points in every game of their winning streak.
UConn is 13-0 against Oklahoma. ... Robertson came into the game as the active 3-point % leader. The sophomore is 168-for-353 (47.5%).
Oklahoma: Opens conference play against No. 7 Baylor on Jan. 4.
UConn: Hosts Wichita State on Jan. 2.
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