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UConn women’s basketball cruises to 83-32 win over Xavier

Aaliyah Edwards recorded her first career double-double in the victory.

After another strong performance from junior guard Christyn Williams, the UConn women’s basketball team took an easy 83-32 win over Xavier in Cincinnati. The 51-point victory was the Huskies’ second-largest of the season and put UConn at 18-1 on the season, 15-0 in the Big East.

After going scoreless in UConn’s win over Seton Hall on Feb. 10, Williams has returned to form to be one of the team’s top scorers alongside star freshman Paige Bueckers. She scored 19 points against Georgetown and 21 points at St. John’s. The Little Rock, Arkansas native stayed hot against the Musketeers with a game-high 22 points, shooting 9-16 from the field, adding three rebounds and two assists.

UConn put the game out of reach quickly, jumping out to a 14-2 lead after a layup from Olivia Nelson-Ododa with 3:29 left in the first quarter. Xavier’s Nia Clark scored all of the Musketeers’ points in the first quarter, but it wasn't enough as the Huskies finished the period up 26-6.

The only real scare for the Huskies all game was an injury one to Bueckers. After hitting Williams for a layup off a long outlet pass for the junior’s first points of the game, Bueckers came up limping and looked to be in pain. She sat for roughly four minutes before returning and promptly scoring six points.

“I didn’t see anything, so when I asked her what she said it just rolled,” Auriemma said postgame of Bueckers’ injury scare. “Players are their own best doctor. They know when they’re hurt and they know when they’re not. Paige has a pretty high pain tolerance and wants to play... She said it was no big deal. If it was a real problem, she wouldn’t have been able to play but obviously, it was nothing.”

Bueckers ended up playing 30 minutes, scoring 11 points (all in the first half) and adding seven assists. Her favorite target was Williams. The two routinely connected on outlet passes for numerous easy layups throughout the game.

The Huskies finished the first half scoring just 16 points on 6-15 shooting while holding the Musketeers to seven points. Despite a sloppy stretch, featuring 11 turnovers from both teams, the Huskies were still firmly in the driver’s seat and took a 42-13 lead into halftime.

Olivia Nelson-Ododa played the fewest minutes of all starters, but still was just one of four Huskies in double figures, scoring 11 points and adding a rebound and an assist in 24 minutes. Aaliyah Edwards was the go-to post player for the final 20 minutes. She made the most of the opportunity, scoring 16 points and adding 11 rebounds for her first collegiate double-double.

Edwards and Williams combined to score 16 of the Huskies’ 22 third-quarter points, mostly layups off of a variety of excellent passes from Bueckers.

In the final 10 minutes, freshmen Saylor Poffenbarger, Piath Gabriel, and Mir McLean came in to close it out. Carrie Gross scored eight of the Musketeers’ 10 fourth-quarter points to outscore Williams and become the only Xavier player in double figures with a team-high 10 points.

While UConn was never in danger of losing, the Huskies once again struggled from the 3-point line, shooting an abysmal 3-17 from beyond the arc. Of course, the 3-point struggles didn't matter much when UConn could get layups at will. Only two Huskies — Bueckers (1-5) and Williams (2-5) — made 3-pointers on the day. It's the second time the Huskies have shot under 20 percent from deep this season, along with their 2-15 performance in the win over then-No. 1 South Carolina.

UConn returns to action Thursday evening on the road against Creighton at 4:30 p.m ET. The game will be broadcast on SNY.