Jan. 23—NEW YORK — Olivia Nelson-Ododa recorded her 20th career double-double for the UConn women's basketball team Sunday.
It was the senior center's first without hitting double figures in points. But she got her points across in other ways.
Nelson-Ododa scored only three points but had career-highs of 18 rebounds and 10 assists as the ninth-ranked Huskies topped St. John's 75-57 in Big East action at Carnesecca Arena.
"She had an incredible game," UConn forward Dorka Juhasz said. "She didn't take many shots today. The past few games she's been consistent scoring the ball. It wasn't, 'Hey I'm not going to do anything.' She stepped up. Eighteen rebounds and 10 assists? That's amazing. She was that point forward for us. Whatever the team needs she's providing."
Freshman Caroline Ducharme led the Huskies (11-4, 6-0 Big East) with a season-high 28 points. Juhasz added 16 points and nine rebounds while Evina Westbrook had 11 points. Guard Nika Muhl played all 40 minutes for the second time in three games and had nine points, five rebounds, three assists to four turnovers, and four steals.
Nelson-Ododa became the 50th member of UConn's 1,000-point club on Monday in the loss to Oregon. She had her second straight double-double since Sunday and did it against the Red Storm while taking only four shots and making one.
With Paige Bueckers having played only six games, not enough to qualify for the statistical leaders, the Winder, Georgia native tops UConn in assists (4.2) and steals (1.5). No Huskies' center has led the team in either of those categories for a season.
"Liv was responsible for 20-some points today at least. It's not like she didn't score," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "The passes that she threw led to scores. Everybody has to do what they're really, really good at. Especially now when we're down a bunch of guys. You can't win it by yourself. We have to have their best selves every night because anything else would not be enough.
"Liv gave us her best self tonight. We all benefited from it."
The Huskies erased a four-point late first-quarter deficit with an 18-3 run en route to taking a 42-31 halftime lead. It was 61-46 going to the fourth quarter.
St. John's (5-12, 1-6) scored the first seven points of the period to get within eight and forced Auriemma to call time out. When play resumed, Nelson-Ododa found Ducharme coming off a double screen for a 3-pointer that started a 10-0 run that put it away.
"They had gone on a little run so the lead was smaller than we would have liked," Ducharme said. "At that point we needed to make a shot and Coach drew up some options and I had an open shot."
"She's not afraid of the moments. She just plays," Auriemma said.
Kadaja Bailey had 21 points for St. John's while Leilani Correa, the Big East's leading scorer, had 19.
Up next for the Huskies is No. 1 South Carolina Thursday at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia. The teams played in the Battle 4 Atlantis final on Nov. 22 with the Gamecocks dominating the fourth quarter to capture a 73-57 victory.
For coverage of all sports in the JI's 18-town coverage area, plus updates on the UConn women's basketball team and head coach Geno Auriemma, follow Carl Adamec on Twitter: @CarlAdamec, Facebook: Carl Adamec, and Instagram: @CarlAdamec.