Coming off the biggest win of the season on Monday against South Carolina, everybody expected the UConn Huskies would return to dominating the season’s remaining conference games.
Tulane, who the Huskies beat 100-56 last time out, was up next. But t did not go as expected.
In what was arguably the most thrilling game of the season, UConn eeked out its 101st straight win, 63-60.
Playing without Kia Nurse, UConn jumped out to an early lead only to have Tulane fight back. The Huskies went scoreless for over seven minutes in the second quarter, a key stretch that allowed the Green Wave to stay in the game.
UConn only had 28 points at the half, its lowest first-half total in a conference game this season, comfortably beating the previous low of 40 against Tulsa.
In the third quarter, the Huskies were unable to take control like they typically do after a slow first half. Instead, Tulane went on a 9-0 run that brought the Huskies’ lead into single digits.
The Green Wave pulled within three points in the fourth quarter and suddenly it was a dogfight. Tulane managed to bring the game to one possession multiple times, but could not get the go-ahead basket it needed.
After a free throw from Crystal Dangerfield, Leslie Vorpahl hit a wild three-pointer with 15 seconds to go which cut the lead to just two.
Dangerfield was quickly fouled on the inbound, but the freshman could only hit one free throw, keeping it a one-possession game. The Green Wave wouldn’t get a chance to tie it.
While inbounding with five ticks remaining, Tulane struggled to get the ball in and tried to throwing it deep. Dangerfield picked it off and drew another foul. She missed both free throws, but Tulane was unable to get one last shot off.
For much of the fourth quarter, UConn looked flustered as the Green Wave made their push. Tulane made a lot of plays but needed just a few more to pull off the upset of the season.
This should be a big wake-up call for the Huskies. The loss of Kia Nurse can’t be understated, as it was apparent UConn missed her leadership on the court in the final minutes. But even without her, this is a game the Huskies should win comfortably.
With just three games remaining in the regular season, the Huskies need to find their groove as they ramp up to the postseason. There’s a very good chance they see Tulane in the conference tournament, and the Green Wave could challenge them again.
UConn is in action next on Wednesday when they welcome Temple to the XL Center for the final regular season game in Hartford. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game will be televised on SNY.