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UConn women’s basketball cruises by Providence, 87-50

The Huskies recovered from a slow start thanks to a strong effort from their youngsters.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Providence at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Despite an ugly start, UConn women’s basketball cruised to a 87-50 win over the Providence Friars. The Huskies improve to 7-0 on the season and 6-0 in Big East play.

With the victory, Geno Auriemma moves into a tie with Pat Summitt for the second-most wins in Division I women’s basketball history with 1,098. He now only trails Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer, who’s up to 1,104 wins and counting.

Sophomore Aubrey Griffin had her best game of the year, setting season-highs with 18 points and nine rebounds. She was also UConn's best defender throughout the day, often applying full-court pressure to the Friars’ ball-handlers.

Paige Bueckers led all scorers with 23 points while also adding in five assists and four rebounds. Anna Makurat finally found her 3-point stroke, making a season-best 3-5 from beyond the arc en route to nine points in a team-high 36 minutes. Evina Westbrook finished with 13 points — her fourth-straight game in double-figures — along with five rebounds.

As a team, UConn had its best game of the season from the free throw line, hitting 15-17. The Huskies shot the ball well from the floor, too, making 40 percent of its threes and 52 percent overall.

Auriemma made the first change to the starting lineup this season, swapping Anna Makurat out for Aaliyah Edwards. The freshman finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.

Christyn Williams failed to score for just the second time in her career and only played 14 minutes. She sat on the bench for the final 16 minutes of the first half and the entire fourth quarter.

Out of the gate, UConn looked like a team that hadn’t played in 10 days. It took the Huskies nearly four minutes to find their first points and another minute to get their first basket to fall, all while they turned the ball over six times in that time.

Down the other end of the court, Providence pulled ahead 12-5 — the largest deficit UConn has faced this season.

With the team sputtering, Auriemma benched every starters except Bueckers for the remainder of the quarter and rolled with a lineup of Bueckers, Griffin, Makurat, McLean and Muhl.

“I was really disappointed in that first group when the game started,” Auriemma told SNY at halftime.

The reserves sparked an 8-0 run which gave UConn its first lead of the day. Soon after, the Huskies went ahead for good, though they only led by one point at the end of the first quarter.

Bueckers came alive in the second period after totaling just four points and one assist in the first. At one point, she either set up or scored 12 straight points during a stretch where UConn pushed its lead past double-digits for the first time.

The Huskies outscored Providence by 16 in the second quarter and went into the locker room with a 46-29 lead.

The Friars opened the second half with four-straight points, which ultimately accounted for half their scoring total in the third quarter. UConn answered with a 12-0 run to push its lead over 20 points and later closed the period with another 12-0 spurt to put Providence away for good.

After an uneventful fourth period, the Huskies came away with a 37-point win.

Next up on UConn’s schedule is a date with Seton Hall on Wednesday, Jan. 13 at 4:30 p.m. SNY will carry all the action from Gampel Pavilion.