STORRS, Conn. -- Crystal Dangerfield has shown that she can be a big-game player for the University of Connecticut women's basketball team.
What the Huskies need the freshman point guard to be as they approach March and the postseason is an every-game player.
With starting guard Kia Nurse struggling to move with a right ankle injury Monday night, coach Geno Auriemma turned to Dangerfield and she responded with 30 minutes of solid play. She finished with five points, seven assists, and a steal as No. 1 UConn made it 100 straight wins by beating sixth-ranked South Carolina 66-55 at sold-out Gampel Pavilion.
"I'm glad that Crystal did what she did tonight," UConn forward Gabby Williams said. "We got to see flashes of what she's capable of."
Dangerfield, who did not get in until midway through the third quarter against SMU on Saturday, came in for Nurse with 2:09 left in the first quarter Monday night and got an assist on a Saniya Chong 3-pointer. She would make her first shot, a trey, early in the second quarter.
"It was crazy," Dangerfield said. "But in this situation you want to make sure that you're ready to go. Coach said the bench production can't fall off when the starters went out and we wanted to keep it up and build on it."
Dangerfield made only one more shot but did a fine job distributing the ball. Three of her assists went to Williams with four other players getting one apiece.
It didn't approach the 19-point, five-assist effort the Murfreesboro, Tennessee , native gave the Huskies (25-0) in their Nov. 17 win over Baylor, but it may have been her best performance since.
"It's no secret that I have not been the happiest camper with Crystal and the way she works and the way she operates," Auriemma said. "I was patient in the beginning, but I'm not a patient guy. If you are really patient, people take forever. So I don't want to be patient. I want them to hurry up and be good, and she's just not in a hurry. It really upsets me that there is no sense of urgency. It's like, 'Why should I?' Well, OK, then why should I play you?
"I think she is starting to understand finally that I don't care if we only have five players, I will only play five. It's like, 'You're going to have to grow up, and you are going to have to do the things we need you to do for our team to win. Like what coach? 'Like what you did tonight, because that's what you're capable of doing."
In her last four games, Dangerfield has 18 assists and four turnovers over 90 minutes of action.
She'll look to build on what she did against the Gamecocks when UConn returns to American Athletic Conference play Saturday against Tulane (SNY, 7 p.m.) in New Orleans.
"There are possessions that I work hard," Dangerfield said. "But it's just consistency, putting three, four, five plays together and then have those turn into days and into weeks and into months. I do believe I have it in me. I just have to find it.
"I need to stay aggressive, listen to and trust Coach, and work hard,
Auriemma is hopeful, but Dangerfield still needs to earn his trust.
"When she played in the Baylor game, she was amazing," Auriemma said. "When was the Baylor game, Nov. 17? What is today, Feb. 13? Alright so every three or four months she gets it. When is the NCAA Tournament? Can we push it back to May?"
AAC TOURNAMENT TICKETS
Individual session tickets for the 2017 AAC tournament to be held March 3-6 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, have gone on sale.
Tickets for the three first-round games on March 3 are $20. Tickets for the quarterfinal round on March 4 are $25 for each of the two separate admission sessions. Tickets for the semifinals on March 5 are $40 and the price of $40 holds for the championship game on March 6.
All-session tickets, which include admission to all four days and 10 games of competition, remain available for $99 each.
If UConn is the No. 1 seed for the tournament, it would begin its bid for a fourth straight tourney title on Saturday, March 4, at 2 p.m. -- the second game of that day's afternoon session. The Huskies (12-0 AAC) have a 2.5-game lead over second-place Temple (9-2) and three-game lead over third-place South Florida (9-3) with four games remaining. The Bulls were upset by Central Florida at the Sun Dome Tuesday.
Tickets may be purchased at the Mohegan Sun Arena box office daily between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. and will be available through the ticket offices of the 11 AAC league schools. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.MoheganSun.com or www.Ticketmaster.com, or by telephone at 800-745-3000. Information on discounts for groups of 10 or more people is available through the Connecticut Sun Group Sales Department at 860-862-4000.
The auction on the UConn website that includes the uniforms the Huskies wore for their Play4Kay Day game with SMU last Saturday wraps up Wednesday at 5 p.m. As of 9 p.m.Tuesday, the highest bid belongs to Katie Lou Samuelson's No. 33 ($1,010) followed by Williams' No. 15 ($1,000), and Napheesa Collier's No. 24 ($810) ... UConn's home game against Oklahoma during the 2017-18 season will be played at Mohegan Sun Arena. The Sooners will also visit the Huskies during the 2019-20 season. Oklahoma will host UConn during the 2018-19 and 2020-21 seasons at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman or at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City ... 1,000-point watch: Williams at 979, Samuelson at 927.