AP

No. 3 UConn women avoid 1st 2-game skid since ’93, top UCLA

Dec 10, 2021, 10:53 PM | Updated: Dec 11, 2021, 4:38 pm

Connecticut forward Olivia Nelson-Ododa (20) drives to the basket against UCLA guard Natalie Chou (...

Connecticut forward Olivia Nelson-Ododa (20) drives to the basket against UCLA guard Natalie Chou (23) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Newark, N.J., Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021. Connecticut won 71-61. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)

(AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Coming off a humbling loss without injured star Paige Bueckers, UConn coach Geno Auriemma hoped his team would learn a lesson.

The third-ranked Huskies struggled again without the reigning national player of the year, but held off UCLA 71-61 Saturday, managing to keep intact a streak of not losing back-to-back games dating to March 1993.

On Thursday, in their first game without Bueckers, the Huskies fell to unranked Georgia Tech and were held to a season-low 44 points.

“That particular loss the other night probably told a lot of players that you’re not good enough right now with the way you’re playing basketball and told our team that you’re not playing as a team,” Auriemma said.

“And you can use any excuse you want. Well, we don’t half our team. And that’s not either here or there. You can still play as a team even though you’re missing key components of your team. So I think the change was to try and play more as a team,” he said.

Dorka Juhasz shot 5 of 5 for 16 points to go with 16 rebounds and Evina Westbrook added 17 points, seven assists and seven rebounds for the Huskies (6-2) as all five starters scored in double figures.

UCLA (5-3) trailed 65-51 with 1:20 left before scoring 10 straight points, closing within four with 37 seconds to go. The Huskies pulled away after that.

“I just had that little bit of my confidence,” Juhasz said. “Last game was a hard one. All of us got together, we fought through adversity as a whole team. It’s not just me. Everybody was great today.”

Bueckers fractured her left tibia at the knee Sunday in a win over Notre Dame. She was averaging 21.2 points, 6.2 assists, and 5.5 rebounds and has accounted for 52% of the Huskies’ offense in points or assists this season.

Charisma Osbornes led UCLA with with 26 points, while Jaelynn Penn had 10 points and seven rebounds. The Bruins fell to 0-7 overall against UConn.

The Huskies had trouble finding their rhythm at the start against UCLA and trailed by as many 11. Caroline Ducharme hit a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the first half, capping an 11-2 run that pulled UConn within 30-28.

“There are moments in games when someone has to make a play of some sort. You have to have the kind of players that can make those plays during those moments. Sometimes those moments are early in the game. Sometimes they’re late in the game,” Auriemma said.

“What changed in the second quarter is there were more clean stops by us and being able to get out a little bit in transition and try to get some baskets early in the shot clock, around the lane. That gave us a little bit of momentum,” he said.

A fast-break layup by Westbrook after a steal from Aaliyah Edwards put the Huskies ahead for good at 43-42 with 3 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. The basket came during a 14-0 run that made it 50-42, with Juhasz scoring seven of the points.

Up by 14 points, UConn missed five straight foul shots in less than a minute as UCLA closed to 65-61 on Dominique Onu’s layup with 37 seconds left.

“We didn’t come here for moral victories. Those days are past for UCLA basketball,” UCLA coach Cori Close said. “We came here to compete and win, and obviously we’re disappointed.”

The Huskies also are without freshman Azzi Fudd. The nation’s consensus top recruit last year is out because of a stress injury to her right foot, as is sophomore Nika Mühl (right foot).

“They still have a lot of really, really good players, so I don’t really feel sorry for them about that,” Close quipped.

Ducharme finished with 14 points, and Christyn Williams had 11 points, while Olivia Nelson-Ododa added 10 points and eight rebounds for UConn.

INJURY UPDATE

Auriemma said Bueckers is considering surgery to repair the tibial plateau fracture.

That would likely extend the time she is out until mid-February at the earliest.

“I think anytime there’s a fracture, that means there’s something that has to be fixed, and you let it be fixed by time or you need to go in there and fix it. So I think by the next couple of days, hopefully we’re going to have a definitive answer,” he said.

NEVER FORGET

The game was part of the Never Forget Tribute Classic at the Prudential Center in Newark, raising money for a 9/11-related charity. It’s the first season women’s teams competed in the event. The UCLA-UConn matchup was nationally televised on ABC, becoming the first regular-season collegiate women’s basketball game to ever air on the network. No. 15 UConn men took on St. Bonaventure in the second game of the doubleheader.

UP NEXT

UCLA: Host Texas Southern on Thursday.

UConn: Host Louisville on Sunday.

___

More AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

1 year ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

1 year ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

1 year ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

1 year ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

1 year ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

1 year ago

No. 3 UConn women avoid 1st 2-game skid since ’93, top UCLA