UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — No. 9 UConn lost to Marquette in February. However, it’s March and the Huskies…
UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — No. 9 UConn lost to Marquette in February. However, now March and the Huskies are playing on a different level.
Aaliyah Edwards and Dorka Juhasz had double-doubles for the second straight game, Niko Muhl added another, and Connecticut advanced to its 19th conference tournament final with an 81-52 win over the fifth-seeded Golden Eagles in the Big East Tournament Sunday.
“We’ll definitely have a different edge when it comes to March, when the games are really, really, really important,” Mull said. “I think our energy was great tonight, our defense was great, and we’re just going to keep doing that because every game counts now.”
Edwards had 20 points and 12 rebounds, while Juhasz had 14 points and 11 rebounds. Mull did it a little differently, finishing with 11 points and 10 assists.
Lou Lopez Seneschal had 14 points and Aubrey Griffin had 11 for the Huskies (28-5), who are seeking their 10th straight league tournament title.
Lisa Carlen had 18 points and Mackenzie Hair added 15 for Marquette (21-10).
The top-seeded Huskies held Marquette to 30% shooting, outrebounded the Golden Eagles 45-32 and outscored them 48-8 in turnovers.
“The game that’s played here in college, to this day, you have to have a tremendous presence in the lane on both ends of the floor,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “And that’s exactly what we did today.”
Connecticut never trailed and used an 18-4 run from the second quarter into the third to blow the game open.
Lopez Seneschal scored the Huskies’ first five points, part of an opening 9-2 run that gave the Huskies a 20-12 lead after the first quarter.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Jordan King and Haire highlighted Marquette’s 8-0 run that cut UConn’s lead to 25-20.
But Marquette’s Chloe Marotta, who averaged nearly 15 points per game, picked up her third foul with 3 1/2 minutes left in the second quarter. She finished with just two points on 1-of-9 shooting.
UConn went on a 12-2 run over the final five minutes of the half to take a 37-22 lead. The Huskies extended it in the third quarter and took their first 20-point lead at 46-26 on Aubrey Griffin’s jumper.
The Huskies will be playing for their third straight Big East Tournament title Monday night after returning to league play with seven straight American Athletic Conference victories.
THE BIG PICTURE
Marquette: The fifth-seeded Golden Eagles could have earned an NCAA Tournament bid with a 10-point win over No. 4 seed St. John’s in the quarterfinals. The program, playing in its seventh straight Big East semifinal, also has a 59-52 home win over UConn last month.
“Our schedule is pretty good, our NET (rating) looks pretty good,” coach Megan Duffy said. “So I hope the amount of work done outside of tonight’s game will be recognised.”
UConn: UConn hasn’t lost in the Big East semifinals since Boston College won in 2004. The Huskies won the national championship that season.
The Huskies are hoping the return of star guard Uzzie Fad in this tournament can give them a boost in the same way Paige Bukers’ return from a season-ending injury last year sparked their 14th straight Final Four appearance. Fudd played in her second straight game after missing 22 this season with a pair of knee injuries. She scored four points in 20 minutes. Caroline Ducharme, who took a hit to the head Saturday after recently returning from a concussion, played just 13 minutes and scored two points.
Auriemma said he expects both to be able to play as needed before the start of the NCAA tournament.
UConn will play No. 11 Villanova on Monday night for the title.
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