UConn women’s basketball’s streak of 240 consecutive wins over unranked opponents came to an end on Thursday night as the Huskies fell to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 57-44. They failed to reach the 45-point mark for the first time since 2006, when Rutgers held them to 42.
In its first game without Paige Bueckers, UConn was outscored 18-5 in the fourth quarter. The offense went cold at the 2:32 mark of the third and didn’t make another field goal for the next 11:11. The Huskies had more turnovers (six) than points (five) in the final quarter and shot 21.4 percent in the second half.
Overall, UConn went 2-of-15 from behind the arc and shot just 31.0 percent from the field. The Huskies’ 16 turnovers led to 18 points the other way while they only scored six points off Georgia Tech’s 10 giveaways. Even though they scored 26 points in the paint, only four of them came in the second half.
Christyn Williams led the team with 13 points while Olivia Nelson-Ododa had a double-double in her homecoming game with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Evina Westbrook was the only other player to reach double-figures on 11 points and also added six rebounds. Those three players combined to score 36 of UConn’s 44 points.
Dorka Juhász filled in for Paige Bueckers in the starting lineup alongside Aaliyah Edwards, Nelson-Ododa, Westbrook and Williams, which meant UConn opened the game with three bigs on the floor at once.
Unsurprisingly, the Huskies’ offense struggled in the first quarter without Bueckers. They made just four baskets and only managed nine points — their second-fewest total in a period this season at the time. Williams and Westbrook did all the scoring with six and three points, respectively.
At one point, UConn went nearly three minutes without a basket as Georgia Tech built a six-point lead. Williams hit a tough fadeaway jumper from the free throw line to stop the bleeding and got the deficit down to four, which is how the first quarter ended.
In the second, UConn jumped out with a 9-2 run thanks to eight points in the paint. The Yellow Jackets took back the lead with five straight points and from there, the teams traded runs — and the lead — through the end of the half.
While Nelson-Ododa asserted herself at times in the return to her home state, both Juhász and Edwards struggled. As a result, Amari DeBerry made her UConn debut and quickly showed why she was the No. 15 recruit in the nation.
She scored on her first touch and also got to the line with a strong offensive rebound, where she sunk both free throws. DeBerry finished with four points — most on the team behind the trio of Nelson-Ododa, Westbrook, Williams.
The Huskies took a three-point lead with a minute left in the half but Georgia Tech hit a triple with 35 seconds left to draw even at the midway point, 28-28.
While the second quarter was a series of runs from either team, the third featured back-and-forth action. The Yellow Jackets only scored back-to-back baskets once and the Huskies didn’t do so at all. They were all even at the start of the period and were knotted at 39 at the end of the period as well.
Then, UConn fell apart. It couldn’t make a shot to save its life and for the first 8:39 of the fourth quarter, its only point came off a free throw from Westbrook. Georgia Tech used the opportunity to go on an 11-0 and built an insurmountable 14-point lead. The Huskies made some noise in the final minutes but it was too little, too late en route to a 13-point defeat.
This is UConn’s first loss to an unranked opponent since it fell to St. John’s on senior day in 2012. The Huskies drop to 5-2 on the season and will need to bounce back quickly with UCLA — another team receiving votes in the AP Poll — looming on Saturday in Newark.