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UConn women’s basketball sneaks by Florida State, 85-77

The Huskies did just enough to stave off back-to-back losses for the first time since 1993.

UConn’s Aaliyah Edwards drives to the basket for two of her 18 first half points vs Florida State.
Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn women’s basketball made just enough plays down the stretch to sneak past the Florida State Seminoles, 85-77 at Mohegan Sun Arena.

The Huskies were up by as many as 20 in the second half but saw the lead dwindle to just four points with 3:19 left in the fourth quarter. However, the defense locked down and held Florida State without a basket for the remainder of the game to pull out the victory.

Head coach Geno Auriemma did not coach after “feeling unwell” after shoot-around, the team announced pregame. Out of an abundance of caution, he chose not to join the team for the game. In his place, associate head coach Chris Dailey improved to 14-0 as the Huskies’ acting head coach.

Both Dorka Juhász and Nika Mühl returned from injury and started. Mühl finished with 12 assists, six points and six rebounds while Juhász had 15 points, nine rebounds, four assists and a career-high five blocks. Aaliyah Edwards powered the offense with a career-high 26 points while Lou Lopez Sénéchal poured in 23 points.

Turnovers continued to plague UConn. The Huskies coughed the ball up 20 times which resulted in 21 points for the Seminoles. That canceled out what otherwise would’ve been a dominant advantage in the paint for the Huskies, who won the rebounding battle 46-31 and out-scored Florida State 40-28 in the paint.

UConn jumped Florida State with a 10-0 run courtesy of up-tempo, transition offense and strong defense. The Seminoles made just one of their first 17 shots and had just three baskets in the first quarter. In that same span, the Huskies were over 50 percent from the floor and dominated inside to open up a 15-point lead after 10 minutes.

That hefty first quarter margin helped UConn maintain a comfortable lead even as Florida State started to knock down shots. The Seminoles put together a 6-0 run and then closed the half with seven of the last nine points but couldn’t get any closer than 13 points in the second quarter. The Huskies had their way on offense and also answered all three of Florida State’s 3-pointers in the second quarter with a basket of its own to maintain the double-digit advantage.

Even with the Seminoles’ late push at the end of the half, UConn still went into the locker room with an 18-point lead.

Out of the break, turnovers started to pile up for the Huskies. They coughed the ball up five times in the first six minutes, which allowed Florida State to score 16 of the first 26 points of the half and cut the deficit to just 12. Unlike the previous quarter, UConn didn’t answer the Seminoles. The visitors continued to surge and used a 9-0 run to pull within just five late in the third.

The Huskies managed to stop the bleeding with four straight free throws and pushed the gap back to nine points entering the final quarter.

Florida State wouldn’t go away that easily, though. It cut the deficit back to five at the final media timeout despite leading scorer Ta’Niya Latson fouling out with seven minutes remaining. UConn continued to make bad decisions with the basketball which led to turnovers and easy points for the Seminoles the other way.

For as much as the Huskies struggled down the stretch, they refused to left Florida State get within one possession. Florida State cut the lead to six points or less on six occasions in the fourth quarter but without fail, UConn answered with a bucket to keep the visitor’s at arm’s length. The Seminoles missed their final seven shots while the Huskies made four of their final six attempts to seal the victory.

With the win, UConn extends its streak without back-to-back losses to 1,069 and improves to 7-2 on the season. Next, the Huskies will play their final game before Christmas break when they host Seton Hall at the XL Center at noon on Wednesday.