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No. 2 UConn women’s basketball falls apart late in 73-57 loss to No. 1 South Carolina

The Huskies were outscored 16-3 in the fourth quarter.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn women’s basketball scored just three points in the fourth quarter en route to a 73-57 loss to the No. 1 South Carolina Gamecocks in the Battle 4 Atlantis Championship.

The Huskies (3-1) led by as many as 13 in the second quarter but South Carolina out-scored them 40-21 over the final 20 minutes. UConn’s lone basket of the fourth came on an Evina Westbrook 3-pointer with 5:01 to play.

South Carolina dominated the glass, out-rebounding the Huskies 42-25 — including a 19-6 edge on the offensive boards. The Gamecocks finished with 15 second-chance points while UConn had two.

Paige Bueckers led the Huskies with 19 points and seven rebounds but turned the ball over four times. Evina Westbrook had 14 points and made two of UConn’s three 3-pointers on the day. Senior Christyn Williams was the only other player in double-figures with 10 points.

Olivia Nelson-Ododa had a strong performance with six points, five rebounds, five blocks but the Huskies didn’t get enough from their other two post players. Aaliyah Edwards had just six points and three rebounds and Dorka Juhász had five turnovers alongside two points and three boards.

South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston dominated the Huskies inside and out with a game-high 22 points and 15 rebounds while the backcourt combination of Zia Cooke and Destanni Henderson combined for 32 points.

Early on, the Gamecocks stifled UConn’s offense in the half court and forced a miss on the Huskies’ first three shots. Down the other end, South Carolina nailed its first two attempts — both 3-pointers — to take an early 6-0 lead.

After a sluggish start, UConn came alive on the fast break. The Huskies scored nine straight points in transition and sparked a 20-2 run to jump ahead by 12. They only scored six points on the break the rest of the game as the Gamecocks cleaned up the turnovers and slowed the game down.

While South Carolina ended the first with six straight points to get the deficit down to 20-14, UConn immediately answered back. The Huskies started the second quarter on an 8-1 run to push their lead back up to 13 points by throwing the ball to the post and getting to the free throw line.

Cooke, who picked up two fouls in the first quarter and went to the bench, returned early in the second and changed the game. She snapped UConn’s momentum with a layup and started a short 6-0 burst from the Gamecocks. From there, South Carolina slowly clawed at the Huskies’ lead and got it all the way down to just three points at halftime.

Out of the locker room, UConn started flat while the Gamecocks cranked up the intensity. They bullied the Huskies in the post and upped the pressure defensively. South Carolina took its first lead since the opening quarter thanks to five straight points from Boston. They then extended the advantage to six after UConn turned the ball over on back-to-back inbounds passes.

While the Huskies re-took the lead, it didn’t last long and they spent the second half chasing the game. The Gamecocks hit a three at the end of period to take a 57-54 lead into the fourth and never looked back. They outscored UConn 16-3 over the final 10 minutes to earn the 16-point victory.

The Huskies drop to 3-1 on the season and will have nearly two weeks off before returning to action. They’ll open Big East play on the road at Seton Hall on Dec. 3.