UConn's best player had just fouled out and Wichita State had cut a 24-point deficit to just 10 in the fourth quarter when Christyn Williams decided to put the Huskies on her back.
The sophomore guard scored 10 of her 19 points in the final quarter, leading top-ranked Connecticut on a 20-2 closing run in an 83-55 win over the Shockers on Thursday night.
“Meg (Walker) fouled out and the game was getting closer so I figured I probably needed to be more aggressive,” Williams said. “And my layups started to fall, so that was great.”
Williams, who had missed six of her first seven shots, finished 6 of 13 from the floor. She also had eight rebounds and seven assists.
“I thought this was one of the best games she played, not just this year but since she's been at Connecticut, because it involved a whole bunch of stuff other than just the ball goes in the basket,” coach Geno Auriemma said.
Crystal Dangerfield scored 22 points and Walker added 21 for the Huskies (11-0, 2-0 American), who won their 122nd game without a loss in American Athletic Conference play. That includes all 104 regular-season games since the conference was formed and all six AAC tournaments.
It took some time for the Huskies to get back into the flow of their offense after a 10-day holiday break.
UConn missed its first six shots and the Shockers (8-6, 0-1) ran out to a 10-1 lead.
But Walker took over from there. She had 13 first-quarter points and UConn went on a 27-2 run to take control.
The Huskies led 22-12 after a quarter and put up the first six points of the second period.
Dangerfield handled the scoring load in the second 10 minutes with 14 points, including a pull-up jumper just before the half to give UConn a 45-26 lead.
“Me, Crystal, Christyn, everyone can score when we need to,” Walker said. “That's a great thing to have on your team, because that means any night could be their night.”
Mariah McCully scored 16 points and Carla Bremaud had 13 for Wichita State. The Shockers trailed by as many as 24 points in the third quarter before going on their big run, cutting UConn's lead to 63-53 after Walker fouled out with 6:20 to play.
“I think we found out on our team that we have some kids with competitive greatness in them tonight,” Shockers coach Keitha Adams said. “I thought we had some players who really tried to perform and play hard.”
But 10 points was as close as Wichita State would get.
Williams scored the next seven for the Huskies and the Shockers had just one basket the rest of the way.
“We were finally able to get some stops,” Dangerfield said. “They were scoring each time down the floor and we were able to finally get some stops and go down the floor and score and that's when we were able to push the lead back out.”
Olivia Nelson-Ododa finished with 13 points, nine rebounds, and seven blocked shots, giving her 50 for the season.
Auriemma returned to the bench after undergoing surgery for diverticulitis last month and missing the Huskies last game, a Dec. 22 win over Oklahoma. He grimaced noticeably several times on Thursday but said he felt fine.
“I think the pain was, I can’t believe I've got to watch this for the next 40 minutes," he joked. “So that started to bother my stomach, but other than that, I feel good.”
STATS OF THE GAME
UConn outrebounded Wichita State 41-23, including 13-5 on the offensive end. The Huskies had 17 second-chance points while holding the Shockers to two.
Wichita State: The Shockers fall to 1-4 on the road this season.
UConn: The Huskies have won 96 straight home games, three shy of their own NCAA record.
Wichita State: The Shockers return home to face Tulsa on Sunday.
UConn: The Huskies travel to Texas to face SMU on Sunday before their showdown against Baylor back in Hartford next Thursday.