STORRS, Conn. -- When Saniya Chong came out of the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's Dec. 7 game at Notre Dame early in the second half from an inadvertent elbow to the face, the issue did not seem to be long term. The senior guard came back in for the final 1:41 of the 72-61 win.
But almost two weeks later, Chong is still dealing with concussion-like symptoms. She didn't make the trip to Kansas State for the Dec. 11 game, and UConn coach Geno Auriemma said Sunday that Chong will miss Monday's game against No. 12 Ohio State and is doubtful for Wednesday's game at Nebraska.
"She's doing some of the stuff you have to do, I guess, and it is just taking a really long time," Auriemma said. "She's not going to be ready for tomorrow night obviously and probably not Wednesday either. So, hopefully, by the time we get back from the holidays, hopefully she'll be ready to go."
No. 1 UConn's first game after Christmas is Dec. 29 at No. 4 Maryland. The Huskies then open American Athletic Conference play against Central Florida in Orlando on Jan. 1.
Chong is averaging 4.6 points and 2.6 assists with a plus-4.2 assist-to-turnover ratio in 21.1 minutes for UConn (9-0). She has started the eight games she played.
Freshman Crystal Dangerfield, who averages 6.9 points, three rebounds and 3.4 assists in eight games, will make her second straight start. In her first career start at Kansas State, she had six points, five rebounds, five assists, four turnovers and two steals in a 75-58 victory.
All five starters -- Dangerfield (37), Kia Nurse (39), Katie Lou Samuelson (39), Napheesa Collier (36) and Gabby Williams (30) -- saw extended minutes against the Wildcats with Williams getting a bit of a break due to foul trouble.
The good news going into Monday is the Huskies have not played since Dec. 11 for their fall semester final exams.
"Having the week off was a good time for us to work on our conditioning," Williams said. "The coaches really pushed us to see what our breaking point would be and to make sure we don't have one. I think that we got a lot done."
Depth could be an issue for UConn. Ohio State (9-3) will certainly try to make it one as it bids to break the Huskies' 84-game winning streak.
"We don't have a lot to begin with and it's kind of a big problem," Auriemma said. "You saw some of the problems when we played at K-State. We just don't have a lot to go to, but we're going to have to figure it out. We had a conversation with some of those young guys on the bench and said, 'We've got to figure out a way to get you involved.' I think they want to be involved but if you watch them every day you just kind of shake your head and go, 'Oh, boy.' So you might have to just close your eyes, throw them out there anyway and see what happens."
Auriemma used Natalie Butler for 16 minutes at Kansas State. Freshmen Molly Bent and Kyla Irwin didn't get in until 1:29 remained while senior Tierney Lawlor played the final 55.6 seconds.
Then again, doesn't every player want to play all the time?
"I know a lot of us were kind of dragging a little bit in the Kansas State game just because our bodies were really tired," Samuelson said. "But we know once it gets farther into the season that is just an excuse and we'll have to keep pushing through. It was nice to have it, but we know we'll be in even tougher positions as we go on."
Ohio State (9-3) has 10 players averaging at least 10 minutes, and that doesn't include Kentucky transfer Linnae Harper, who became eligible on Friday and had 15 points against Alabama State. All-American junior guard Kelsey Mitchell, who became the fastest player to reach 2,000 career points earlier this season, leads the Buckeyes in scoring.
Harper and fellow Buckeyes junior Stephanie Mauvunga were teammates of former UConn All-Americans Moriah Jefferson and Breanna Stewart on the 2015 United States Pan American Games team, which lost to Nurse and Team Canada in the gold medal game.
"They have a lot of bodies that they can put out there, and obviously they want to go up and down and want to create as much of a high-scoring game as they can," Auriemma said. "Controlling the tempo is going to be really, really important, not that we want to walk it up and play a 50-45 game. Our starters are going to log a lot of minutes tomorrow. But we're going to need some help from our bench and that is a big concern."
Toys for Tots drive
The Huskies will collect donations for Toys for Tots prior to Monday's game. UConn and the U.S Marine Corps Reserves are asking fans to bring a new, unwrapped toy to give to the cause.
Team representatives will begin taking donations at 5:30 p.m. at the XL Center main entrance on Trumbull Street, which will be the only collection location.
The mission of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserves' Toys for Tots program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year and distribute them as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted. The primary goal of Toys for Tots is to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens.