The opening minute of the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's game at Temple Sunday seemed more like the 41st minute of Thursday's game against Tulsa as the Owls scored the first six points.
Point guard Crystal Dangerfield knew she had to do something about it.
"We could have easily come out here and let that last game be in the forefront of our minds," Dangerfield said. "We could have come out flat and let it stay close. We took personally what happened the other night and weren't going to let it happen again."
Dangerfield scored seven of her 12 points in a 14-2 run that put the Huskies in front and set the tone for 39 minutes of solid ball. Once top-ranked UConn got rolling it never stopped in its 113-57 American Athletic Conference rout of Temple at McGonigle Hall in Philadelphia.
The Huskies (18-0 overall, 7-0 AAC) are right back on the road as they visit Memphis for a Wednesday AAC matinee at Roane Fieldhouse (SNY, 1 p.m.)
Dangerfield is part of UConn's limping wounded that includes All-Americans Katie Lou Samuelson (ankle) and Gabby Williams (hip) as she deals with shin splints in her left leg. She wears a sleeve on the leg. The Murfreesboro, Tennessee, native played the entire first half Sunday as the Huskies took an insurmountable lead. She came out 1:32 into the third quarter and did not return as the Huskies continued to build their advantage.
She played for only 15 minutes against Tulsa after not coming out against Texas in the Jan. 15 win.
"It's like when you make initial contact with the floor, something's cutting at your leg," Dangerfield said of the pain that comes with her shin splints. "I feel fine. It's just going to be something that I have to deal with.
"I feed off the game, whatever is going on. If things are going bad it's easy to think into that. But when things are going good, I'm dealing with it. Regardless, I want to play."
Dangerfield is averaging 11.4 points, one of six Huskies scoring in double figures. She ranks third in the league in assists (4.4) behind South Florida's Laia Flores and teammate Williams and second to Flores in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.3). She is also second in 3-point shooting percentage (48.0) to teammate Kia Nurse.
"Crystal's playing in control and playing smart," Williams said. "Like all of us, she's a competitor so she'll be stubborn sometimes and not want to sit out. But ultimately she knows what's good for her."
After only six players saw action at Texas -- a win iced by Dangerfield's two free throws with 8.3 seconds left -- and the bench play was criticized after the Tulsa game, the reserves responded in a big way Sunday. Freshman Megan Walker was outstanding with 22 points, six rebounds, and five assists. But there were contributions up and down the bench.
Only Nurse saw more than 25 minutes of action among the starters, and the Huskies were down one (Samuelson) to begin with.
"We're probably not in a great place right now mentally," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "That's usually the first sign whenever your team looks a little tired. It's generally not because physically something is going on. You think back when you were 19-20, generally the only time you were tired was when someone asked you to do something that you didn't feel like doing. Then all of a sudden 9-10 o'clock you felt great.
"Mentally we're a little bit worn down because it has been a long season, but I'm sure every team has to deal with that. That's why it's important to get some kind of contributions from the guys on the bench. If they can continue doing that it will help us."
Samuelson is expected to again be a game-time decision Wednesday after aggravating a left ankle injury in the third quarter against Tulsa. The All-American guard has already missed five games as a junior after missing just one in her first two seasons. If Samuelson sits out, Azura Stevens will likely get the nod in the starting lineup.
It will also move the bench players up one spot and they need to respond like they did Sunday. Walker came in with just 4:20 gone and was in almost to stay, playing 32 of the final 35 minutes.
"Everyone comes in as a freshman, and they get overwhelmed by the size, the bigness of it, the intensity level of it, the quickness of it, and that you have to do it every day," Auriemma said. "They forget that at one time they were in ninth grade and they did it then. But it has been so long since they have really had to fight though anything that the first sign of a fight they go, 'What the heck is going on here?' It's nice to see when a kid realizes, 'Yeah, I just got punched in the face, and you know what? It didn't really hurt that bad and I'm still here.'
"When you see Megan play like she did Sunday, it's not just what she accomplished out there, which was a lot, it's the look that she had out there. It's the look of, 'This is where I belong. This is what I do. This is what I came here to do.' That's all basically what I want is for them to go out there and go, 'This is why I came to Connecticut. I might not make every shot, I might not get every rebound, I am going to make mistakes. But I'm going to act like this is where I want to be and this is what I came here to do.' That's all anyone really wants."
UConn already owns a 97-49 win over Memphis from New Year's Eve at the XL Center in Hartford as Williams led six Huskies in double figures with 20 points. The Tigers (7-12, 2-4) are coming off a 64-53 loss at Cincinnati Sunday. UConn enters the day with a two-game lead over USF and Central Florida in the league race with Cincinnati also two back in the loss column.
Memphis has averaged 567 for its nine home games. Wednesday's crowd will be bolstered by more than 1,000 students from area schools who will make their way to Roane Fieldhouse, which will be the 15th different venue the Huskies have played in so far in 19 games.
"We need to build off of Sunday," Williams said. "It was a huge setback what happened with Tulsa and the past few practices. It's about moving forward and adding on to what we did."
For Dangerfield, it will be her first college game back in the Volunteer State, though Memphis is about 250 miles from her home.
She'll get a homecoming game as a senior as UConn starts a series with Vanderbilt next year that will take the Huskies to Nashville during the 2019-20 campaign.
"It's always harder on the road," Dangerfield said. "So it will be another test for us to see how mature we are."