DAYTON, Ohio (AP)The Huskies’ point guard was out with back spasms, another played with a broken toe, and a third player left with after twisting an ankle. By the end of the game, No. 4 UConn was down to the bottom of the roster.
Didn’t matter. With a huge performance by its hot-shooting forward, UConn pulled away and then headed home for some rest and healing.
Megan Walker scored 23 points and matched her career high with 12 rebounds Tuesday night as UConn beat Dayton 75-37 with key players watching from the bench.
Point guard Crystal Dangerfield didn’t play because of back spasms two days after she scored 23 points during a 73-62 win at Ohio State. Anna Makurat twisted her right ankle in the second quarter, returned for the start of the third but made an early exit.
It was a challenging night for the Huskies (6-0), who took control with their outside shooting in their first regular season visit to University of Dayton Arena, completing a two-game trip to Ohio that sapped their depth.
“Megan had a monster game, and we got a little bit from everybody and that’s what it takes,�� coach Geno Auriemma said.
Senior guard Molly Bent made her first career start in Dangerfield’s place and had four points with two assists.
Adding to the Huskies’ concerns, Makurat went down hard in the second quarter and limped off. She left in the third quarter after scoring six points in 11 minutes.
That wasn’t the whole of it, either. Olivia Nelson-Ododa broke a toe when she smacked it on the leg of her kitchen table last Wednesday and was limited in the game at Ohio State. Against Dayton, she had 14 points and eight rebounds.
“It was definitely better than at Ohio State,” she said. “I’m doing well right now.”
With the roster depleted, Auriemma told Walker pregame that she needed to take a lot of shots and lead the offense. She made four 3s, matching her career high, and 9 of 19 shots overall.
“I told Megan, ‘Every time you touch it, try to score,’” Auriemma said. “She took it to the extreme at times.”
Walker hit three 3s in the third quarter as the Huskies pulled ahead by 31 points and were never challenged. The Huskies then headed home for some rest.
“A couple days off couldn’t hurt,” Walker said. “We’ll get everyone healthy and feeling better.”
Dayton (3-3) lost to a Top 10 team at home for the second straight game. The Flyers also fell behind early and never recovered during a 75-49 loss to No. 6 South Carolina on Nov. 13. Jayla Scaife led Dayton with 12 points.
“It’s just the pace of their offense,” Dayton coach Shauna Green said. “They run it so fast, so hard, so precise.”
The Huskies took control with a13-0 run that highlighted their versatility and prompted a Dayton timeout.
Nelson-Ododa had a put-back basket, and the Huskies got consecutive 3s from three different players – Walker, Makaurat and Christyn Williams – before Nelson-Ododa completed the rally with a fade-away jumper that made it 24-9. The Huskies were 5 of 7 from beyond the arc in the first quarter, when they led by as many as 18 points. They pushed it to 23 in the second quarter before Makurat limped off. Dayton never got closer than 19 points.
UConn: The Huskies have an eight-day break before their next game, giving them a chance to get healthy.
“Hopefully when we get back, we’ll be whole,” Auriemma said. “Everybody should be ready to go.”
Dayton: The Flyers couldn’t overcome a poor first quarter in their loss to South Carolina, and had the same issues again Tuesday, going 4 of 20 as UConn pulled into the comfortable lead. Dayton shot 20.6% from the field overall.
UConn is 4-0 all-time against Dayton, winning their last meeting 98-65 in Connecticut on Nov. 22, 2016.
ON THE BOARDS
Dayton’s strength has been rebounding. The Flyers rank 25th nationally with 46.2 per game. UConn outrebounded the Flyers 49-36.
UConn plays at Seton Hall on Dec. 5, completing a stretch of three road games.
Dayton plays No. 23 Gonzaga on Friday in the Gulf Coast Showcase.
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