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UConn women’s basketball shuts down Tennessee, 60-45

Excellent defense and breakout game from Aubrey Griffin helped lift the Huskies over the Lady Vols.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

With its best second-half performance of the season, UConn women’s basketball cruised to a 60-45 victory over the No. 23 Tennessee Lady Volunteers. Despite shooting just 23-73 from the field, the Huskies relied on their defense, which limited the Lady Vols to just 14 second half points, to secure their first win over Tennessee since 2004.

Aubrey Griffin showed up everywhere on the court, wreaking havoc defensively with five offensive steals and five offensive rebounds on top of 13 points and three assists.

UConn’s offense largely struggled in the first half, making just 11-35 shots (31.4 percent). Crystal Dangerfield, Megan Walker and Griffin accounted for all the Huskies’ shots and all but one point in the first half.

UConn went into halftime trailing by just three — largely thanks to its defense. The Huskies forced a ridiculous 15 turnovers but only converted them into seven points.

The sophomores struggled in particular through 20 minutes. Olivia Nelson-Ododa watched the entire second quarter from the bench after picking up her second foul in the final minute of the first period. Christyn Williams missed all six of her shots from the field and accounted for a third of the team’s turnovers before the break.

But out of the locker room, UConn looked like a new team. Williams made the Huskies’ first two baskets as part of a 7-0 to start the third quarter that gave UConn its first lead since the first minute of the game.

With the offense finally in a groove, the defense clamped down on Tennessee and held it to just three baskets in the third. The Huskies were all over the floor — led by Griffin — and made life miserable for the Vols no matter where they went. The constant pressure seemed to get to Tennessee, who launched a handful of passes into the stands untouched.

While UConn built its lead beyond double-digits in the third, it pulled away in the final period. Nelson-Ododa came alive with eight fourth-quarter points while the Lady Vols scraped together just seven as a team. The sophomore finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and a block.

UConn’s 32 percent shooting was its lowest in a victory since 2003. The Huskies overwhelmed the Lady Vols into 27 turnovers which resulted in 15 points — the point differential in the game. While UConn only won the rebounding battle by a slim 47-45 margin, it racked up 17 offensive boards for 11 second-chance points against a Tennessee team that is one of the best night country in regards to rebounding.

When the Huskies couldn’t score early on, Dangerfield carried the team with 10 points on 5-11 shooting in the first half. She made four of the team’s first five baskets and finished with 14 points on the night. Williams came up big in the second half and totaled nine points and nine rebounds on the night. Anna Makurat grabbed a team-high eight rebounds along with five points.

UConn improves to 17-1 on the season and 14-9 all-time against Tennessee.