In its first game in front of a full-capacity crowd at Thompson-Boling Arena since 2006, UConn women’s basketball defeated the Tennessee Volunteers, 84-67. The Huskies led from wire to wire, though the Vols came close a few times. The hosts got as close as two points early in the third quarter but couldn’t close the gap.
Lou Lopez Sénéchal starred for UConn, finishing with a team high and season high 26 points while Aaliyah Edwards also had a big night with 25 points. Nika Mühl came within one assist of tying her own single-game program record with 14 dimes while Dorka Juhász and Aubrey Griffin each had 13 points.
The Huskies led 33-17 after the first quarter but Tennessee rallied to get within four points at halftime. However, UConn out-scored the hosts 44-31 over the final 20 minutes to secure the victory.
Tennessee committed 21 turnovers to the Huskies’ 15, but UConn turned those giveaways into 20 points while the Vols only managed eight.
Everything that could go right for UConn did in the first quarter. The offense couldn’t be stopped, putting up 33 points while making 14 of its final 16 shots from the floor over the opening 10 minutes. The Huskies found success going inside, totaling nearly half their points (16 of 33) from the paint in the first period.
The flowing offense helped out UConn on the other end, too. While the Huskies didn’t exactly stifle Tennessee — they still managed 17 points in 10 minutes — the early lead made every trip down the floor crucial for the hosts. When UConn forced a stop, it almost always went down and built on its lead.
As the second quarter began, the game flipped. Suddenly, the Huskies couldn’t do anything right. After a clean first period in which they committed just one foul and no turnovers, they committed eight fouls coughed the ball up seven times in the ensuing quarter — a jump that put the officials in the crosshairs of UConn’s coaching staff.
“This is what you get when you come down here. The game was called one way then it changed. Nothing else changed. We didn’t change,” an angry Geno Auriemma told ESPN at the half.
The Huskies also struggled mightily on the defense glass, though. Tennessee grabbed five of its eight misses in the second quarter, which resulted in eight second-chance points. UConn also made just three shots in the entire period, which allowed the Vols to cut the lead down to four at the half.
The Huskies’ offense got back on track after the break. Just like in the first quarter, they didn’t allow Tennessee back-to-back baskets and even though the hosts scored as many points in the third as it had in the second quarter, UConn pushed its lead back out to 13 entering the final 10 minutes.
From there, the defense locked down. Tennessee managed just 12 points in the fourth, its fewest of any quarter as the Huskies secured a 17-point victory.
Next, UConn returns home for Big East play, when the Huskies welcome Maddy Siegrist and Villanova to the XL Center on Sunday.