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UConn women’s basketball loses to Oregon, 72-59

The shorthanded Huskies didn’t have enough to compete against a fully healthy Oregon squad.

Syndication: The Register Guard Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard / USA TODAY NETWORK

UConn women’s basketball didn’t have enough to keep up on the road against the Oregon Ducks, losing 72-59.

The Huskies were without Christyn Williams due to COVID protocols. The news of her absence came out a little more than an hour before tip-off. Meanwhile, Oregon has just gotten healthy after dealing with a combination of injuries and COVID throughout the season and was coming off an upset of No. 7 Arizona on Saturday.

Despite the loss, Olivia Nelson-Ododa had the best game of her UConn career. She led the team with six assists and eight rebounds while also adding 17 points. Most importantly, the senior did so against a strong Ducks’ frontcourt — one that would’ve shut her down in years past.

Caroline Ducharme continued to be the Huskies’ go-to scorer with a team-high 22 points. Though she struggled with five turnovers, the freshman took more than twice as many shots as her next closest teammate.

UConn committed 19 turnovers on the day which led to 21 points for Oregon the other way. The Ducks’ bench added 28 points while the Huskies got just four from Aaliyah Edwards — the only player who came off the bench.

UConn torched Oregon’s defense inside for the first few minutes and jumped out on a 10-0 run in which all its points came from inside the paint or the foul line.

But after taking the early lead, the Huskies’ offense went cold. It started with a scoring drought of 3:32 in which UConn missed six straight shots — half of which were layups. While Ducharme briefly stopped the bleeding with a basket in the paint, the Huskies missed their final six shots of the first quarter.

Over that same span, Oregon used back-to-back 3-pointers to get itself back into the game and closed the opening period on a 7-0 spurt to take its first lead of the game, 15-14. From there, UConn quickly unraveled.

It took the Huskies over four minutes to score its first points of the second quarter and by that point, the Ducks had built their advantage to 12 points. While UConn briefly woke up to get the deficit back down to single digits, it scored just one basket over the final three minutes.

The Huskies struggled on both ends of the floor in the period. Offensively, they turned the ball over nine times and struggled to get any good looks against Oregon’s zone defense. On the other end, UConn allowed 24 points in the second quarter — 12 of which came from Sedona Prince.

Ducharme and Nelson-Ododa kept their side within shouting distance, scoring 21 of the team’s 24 points at the half. Still, Oregon took a 15-point lead into the locker room, its largest of the game.

Out of the break, the Huskies showed life with 10 quick points in the first three minutes — matching their total from the second quarter. However, poor defense undercut any chances at a comeback.

UConn got the deficit down to as little as 10 but Oregon responded with nine of the next 11 points to push the gap out to 17 points. After 30 minutes, the Huskies trailed by 21 and didn’t make much noise in the fourth quarter en route to a 13-point defeat.

Evina Westbrook finished with eight points in her homecoming game and played all 40 minutes. Dorka Juhász was the only other UConn player to make more than two baskets and finished with five points.

For the Ducks, Te-Hina Paopao led the way with 22 points and eight rebounds while Prince was the only other player in double-figures with 12 points. 10 of Oregon’s 11 players who saw action scored.

With the loss, the Huskies have dropped two games to unranked opponents for the first time since the 2003-04 season. They fall to 9-4 on the season.

Next, UConn will make the cross-country trek home to face Seton Hall at Gampel Pavilion on Friday, Jan. 21.