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UConn women’s basketball defeats Marquette, 63-53

The Huskies’ post players dominated in an ugly regular season finale.

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

UConn women’s basketball closed the regular season with a tough win over the Marquette Golden Eagles, 63-53.

Olivia Nelson-Ododa finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds to earn her sixth double-double of the season and also blocked a season-high six shots. Aaliyah Edwards scored 16 points on an efficient 7-9 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds giving her 40 points on 16-19 shooting with 22 rebounds over her last two games. Paige Bueckers didn’t have her best night, making just 6-17 from the floor for 13 points with just one assist. All of her points came in the first and fourth quarters.

As a team, UConn (21-1, 18-0 Big East) tied its season-low with 63 points and made just three shots on 16 attempts from beyond the arc. They also turned the ball over 15 times and finished with 12 assists, their lowest total of the year. The Huskies did force 15 Marquette giveaways as well and won the battle of the offensive boards 18-17, which led to a 24-7 advantage on second chance points.

UConn started strong on both ends of the floor, though Bueckers and Nelson-Ododa combined for the team’s first 13 points. The Huskies scored 13 of the final 18 points of the quarter to build an 11-point lead by the end of the first quarter.

Things didn’t come as easily for UConn in the second, though. The two sides traded baskets for the first five minutes of the period and neither side scored back-to-back buckets before the half.

The Huskies maintained their advantage largely thanks to their work on the offensive glass. UConn grabbed 11 first-half offensive rebounds and converted them into 15 second-chance points. Marquette, by comparison, totaled four offensive rebounds for just two second-chance points before the break.

The Golden Eagles came out of the locker room with energy and put together an 8-0 run to cut the Huskies’ lead to just seven points — the smallest it had been since the first quarter. Nelson-Ododa stopped the bleeding with a jumper and soon after, UConn exploited its size advantage with six straight points off layups inside from Edwards and Nelson-Ododa.

Marquette refused to let the Huskies get away easily, though. Despite enduring a scoring drought of over three and a half minutes, the Golden Eagles added five quick points before the end of the quarter to get back within single digits entering the fourth.

In the final period, UConn pushed its lead to 15 twice — tied for its largest margin of the day — but allowed Marquette to score on the ensuing possession both times. Ultimately, the Golden Eagles failed to make a serious comeback effort and the Huskies eventually came away with a 10-point victory.

Next, UConn will begin postseason play in the Big East Tournament. The top-seeded Huskies will play the winner of St. John’s and Xavier on Saturday at noon at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.