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UConn women’s basketball pulls away from St. John’s, 75-57

The Huskies closed the game on a 14-4 run to stay undefeated in Big East play.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn women’s basketball pulled away over the final eight minutes to earn a 75-57 win over the St. John’s Red Storm.

St. John’s began the fourth quarter on a 7-0 run to get within eight points, which prompted Geno Auriemma to take a timeout. From there, the Huskies responded with 10 straight points and finished the game on a 14-4 run to earn the victory.

Caroline Ducharme scored a career-high 28 points while Olivia Nelson-Ododa also set a pair of career-bests with 18 rebounds and 10 assists. Dorka Juhász finished with 16 points to tie her highest mark in a UConn uniform and added nine rebounds, while Nika Mühl had nine points, five rebounds and three assists.

Turnovers plagued the Huskies all game long. They coughed the ball up 16 times, which led to 24 points for the Red Storm. However, UConn dominated the glass with a 45-22 rebounding advantage and improved from deep after two dreadful shooting performances in its last two games, making 7-of-23 (30.4 percent) from beyond the arc.

Juhász gave UConn its first seven points with three different baskets. She started with a put-back, hit a 3-pointer and later drove to the rim off a pump-fake.

Despite the early contributions from the transfer, the Huskies found themselves in a back-and-forth battle with the hosts. Neither team held more than a one-possession lead or scored back-to-back baskets for the first seven and a half minutes.

The Red Storm took a four-point lead with 1:47 left in the first quarter but after that, the game flipped in UConn’s favor. It closed the opening period on a 7-0 run and extended it to 18-3 in the second quarter to push the gap to double-digits.

The biggest change for the Huskies came on the defensive end. St. John’s made seven of its first 14 shots but missed its next six as UConn established some distance. Although the lead hovered around 10 points, it would’ve been even wider if the Huskies didn’t miss five layups in the second quarter.

The two teams went into the locker room with UConn leading 42-31.

The Huskies’ streaky play continued into the third quarter. They used a 6-0 spurt to take a 16-point lead — their largest of the day to that point — but later had a nearly three-minute stretch without a basket which allowed St. John’s to get back within 11.

With the offense in need of a spark, Ducharme delivered. She posted up and scored to snap the drought and went on a 6-0 run by herself to keep the hosts at an arm’s length.

The Red Storm wouldn’t go away, though. They opened the fourth quarter on a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to single digits. Then, Auriemma took a timeout and the whole game turned. Out of the break, UConn hit a pair of 3-pointers to push it to 14 points and then got baskets from Juhász and Ducharme to go up 18. From there, the Huskies pulled away and came out with a comfortable 18-point victory.

Christyn Williams returned to the bench for the first time since entering COVID-19 protocols on Sunday, Jan. 16. Aubrey Griffin also made her first appearance at a game since she underwent back surgery on Jan. 10.

With the win, UConn improves to 11-4 overall and 6-0 in Big East play. Next, the Huskies will head to DePaul on Wednesday instead of South Carolina, which was the plan until the non-conference matchup was canceled on Sunday night.