UConn women’s basketball’s stranglehold on the renewed rivalry with the No. 7 Tennessee Volunteers continued Sunday with a 75-56 victory at the XL Center. The Huskies, wearing early 2000’s throwback uniforms, opened the second half on a 20-2 run and rode a 23-11 third quarter to victory.
Since the series was revived in 2020, UConn improved to 3-0 against Tennessee.
Caroline Ducharme did not play out of precaution after taking a few hits to the head in the team’s recent contests.
“The last two games that we played, she took a couple pretty solid hits,” Geno Auriemma said. “She just wasn’t feeling really good yesterday and this morning when she woke up. So precautionary — it’s best to keep her out.”
“She doesn’t have a concussion,” he added later. “She knew she wasn’t ready. She knew she’s not right. So a couple days off will do her great.”
Without its leading scorer over the last 10 games, another freshman stepped up. Azzi Fudd scored a career-high 25 points on a 7-9 effort from beyond the arc and shot a perfect 6-6 from the field in the second half.
Behind Fudd, Evina Westbrook scored 14 points against her former team to go with four rebounds and three assists while Aaliyah Edwards had 14 points and seven rebounds. Nika Mühl finished with a team-high five assists.
Tennessee’s offense struggled all day long. The Vols shot 29 percent from the field and made just three 3-pointers all game. Jordan Horston scored 26 of her team’s 56 points in the loss.
From the opening tip, UConn’s defense stifled Tennessee. It took the Vols over two and a half minutes to score and they managed just four baskets in the entire first quarter. However, the Huskies struggled to capitalize on the offensive end. They made just one of their first five shots and allowed Tennessee to take an early 5-3 lead.
UConn struggled with unforced errors, as the Huskies committed four first-half turnovers on three travels and an offensive foul. Still, UConn led by five points after 10 minutes.
Though Westbrook remained on the bench despite Ducharme’s absence, she made an immediate impact against her former team. She hit a 3-pointer to put UConn back ahead late in the first quarter and totaled a team-high 11 points in the first half.
In the second quarter, the Huskies put together one of their longest possessions of the season. It last 53 seconds as they grabbed six offensive rebounds to keep it alive but couldn’t get the ball through the hoop. Finally, Fudd drained a 3-pointer from the corner to extend the lead to seven.
Both offenses ground to halt at the end of the half, with Tennessee scoring just two points in the final three minutes and UConn being held scoreless over the last 2:20.
Though the Huskies went into the locker room with a seven-point lead, it could have been even wider. The Vols shot just 7-23 (26 percent) and made just one 3-pointer in the first half. However, 10 of their 25 points came at the foul line as four different UConn players picked up two fouls.
After the break, the Huskies put the game to bed. They opened the third quarter on a 7-0 run before Tennessee took a timeout. That stoppage didn’t deter UConn as the run extended to 14-0, which prompted the Vols into another timeout. All 14 points came from Mühl and Christyn Williams — neither of whom scored in the first half.
The Vols’ first basket of the third quarter didn’t come until the 3:19 mark and even though they outscored the Huskies 9-2 to close the period, they still trailed by 19. Tennessee kept the momentum into the fourth quarter and cut the deficit down to as little as 13, which prompted Geno Auriemma to take a timeout.
Out of the stoppage, Edwards hit her second career three and Fudd followed it up with a pair of triples and a driving layup to end any notions of a Vols’ comeback. UConn drained the final two minutes en route to the 19-point victory.
With the win, the Huskies earned their first win over a top-10 opponent of the season and improve to 15-4 overall. Next, they will return to Big East play when they host Villanova on Wednesday at the XL Center.