No. 8 UConn women close out 2022 with 61-48 win over Marquette

The UConn women’s basketball team put a bookend on 2022 with another shorthanded victory on Saturday.

The No. 8 Huskies defeated the Marquette Golden Eagles 61-48 in an ugly defensive affair at Gampel Pavilion.

“The biggest thing is not being able to bring any point production off the bench, which is always something that I’ve tried to have is making sure that we have somebody that was a scorer that we could put into the game and give us a quick jolt,” UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said. “And right now, in a game like today when you really needed offense it, was tougher than usual.”

The Huskies held the Golden Eagles to 34.5% shooting from the field and 27.8% from deep. They had a 39-28 edge on the boards and scored 15 points off 14 Marquette turnovers, but also committed 17 of their own. UConn also only scored 0.79 points per possession, its second lowest mark this season.

Lou Lopez Sénéchal led UConn with 22 points, along with three rebounds. Caroline Ducharme was right behind her with 19 points and seven rebounds. Aaliyah Edwards had nine points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals, while Dorka Juhász finished with nine points, 10 rebounds and three assists.

UConn had eight players available after only having seven to work with in a 25-point win at No. 21 Creighton earlier in the week. Forward Amari DeBerry was back in action after flight cancellations kept her from joining the team.

Aubrey Griffin, who tested positive for COVID-19 while home for the holidays, sat on the bench wearing a mask. Azzi Fudd missed her sixth consecutive game with a right knee injury, but she participated in warmups after being cleared to resume basketball activities earlier this week. Both Fudd and Griffin went through two workouts over the weekend, Auriemma noted.

“Both went really, really well,” Auriemma said. “So I’m really encouraged by how soon that can translate into actual playing time. ... My guess is based on what happens the next couple of days (Aubrey) should be able to go on Tuesday. Whether Azzi or not. keep our fingers crossed.”

The Huskies opened Saturday’s contest in very similar fashion to their last time out, going on a 9-0 run out of the gates to force Marquette to call an early timeout.

Though the Golden Eagles eventually found the back of the basket off consecutive 3-pointers, defense led the way for UConn. The Huskies led 19-10 at the end of the first quarter, with seven of those points coming off seven turnovers.

The rest of the first half didn’t go as smoothly, however. UConn struggled to start the second quarter as it allowed Marquette to go on a 5-0 run to make it a four-point game.

The defense eventually snapped back into form as the Huskies held the Golden Eagles without a bucket for nearly five minutes, missing eight shots in a row during that span, but the offense sputtered. UConn turned the ball over five times early and didn’t make a basket until five minutes into the period when Lopez Sénéchal made a layup.

Lopez Sénéchal and Juhász were responsible for all of the Huskies’ points in the quarter as they were outscored 12-9. Despite that and 10 first-half turnovers, they still led 28-22 at the break behind their defense. Marquette also committed 10 first-half turnovers and shot 33.3% from the field.

Lopez Sénéchal had 13 points in the first half. She picked up right where she left off with a 3-pointer to open the third quarter, giving UConn a nine-point lead. But less than a minute later the Huskies had an injury scare when Juhasz went down. She briefly exited the game, was looked at by the team’s trainer and got on the stationary bike before subbing back in to loud cheers from the home crowd with 7:19 left.

The Gampel faithful once again applauded Juhász when she made a 3-pointer in transition with 1:25 left in the quarter. That triple gave UConn a double-digit lead back after Marquette managed to make it a five-point game a few minutes prior. The Huskies led 44-35 entering the final frame.

After scoring UConn’s last bucket of the third quarter to become the second Husky in double-figures, Ducharme powered the offense in the fourth. She made back to back layups and then drained a 3-pointer, responsible for all seven of her team’s points to open the period.

“She has a knack for making a big play when you really need a big play,” Auriemma said of Ducharme. “That’s who she is, that’s part of what she brings to the team that really you can’t duplicate that, you know? You’ve got kids that can shoot or they can make plays, but she makes them in big moments. And today, she had a lot of those moments.”

Lopez Sénéchal continued her strong showing from there, scoring her own pair of baskets to give UConn a 57-46 lead with 3:18 left. Ducharme and Juhász scored layups after that, part of a 8-2 run in which the Huskies held their opponent without a bucket for over five minutes to put the game away.

“Obviously, it’s always tough when we’re in those situations and we get tired,” Lopez Sénéchal said. “But I think at the end of the day it’s just getting mentally tough and push through.”

The Huskies have a quick turnaround before heading back on the road to face Butler in Indianapolis this Tuesday. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. on SNY.