No. 17 UConn women’s basketball did just enough to get past the No. 24 North Carolina Tar Heels in a 76-64 win at Mohegan Sun on Sunday.
Paige Bueckers scored her 1,000th career point on the first basket of the second half, tying Maya Moore as the fastest UConn player to reach that mark (55 games). The redshirt junior put together her best performance of the season with 26 points on 11-14 shooting and a career-high four blocks.
Aaliyah Edwards recorded her second double-double in as many games with 16 points and 11 rebounds while UConn got a balanced scoring effort from the rest of the squad. Seven of the eight players who saw the court scored and six managed at least five points.
Nika Mühl reached double-figures for the third time this season with 12 points but had as many turnovers as assists with six. Aubrey Griffin made an impact everywhere on the floor, finishing with five points, eight boards, and a season-high four assists.
UNC started fast by making its first three shots and jumping out to a 6-2 lead before going completely cold. The Tar Heels missed their next seven shots while turning the ball over seven times during a 6:30-long scoring drought. During that, UConn went on a long, methodical 13-0 run to go up by nine, a lead that they’d hold to the end of the opening quarter.
UNC owned the second quarter, however. UConn only managed back-to-back baskets once in the period while the Tar Heels used 5-0, 4-0 and 8-0 runs to erase the deficit and, for a moment, take the lead. Bueckers carried the Huskies, scoring 10 of their 17 points in the quarter.
That proved to be just enough to send UConn into halftime tied at 36.
The Huskies came out of the locker room on fire, scoring the first eight points of the second half and prompting North Carolina into a timeout. While UConn came out of that break with a 3-pointer, the Tar Heels answered with six unanswered points. The Huskies certainly didn’t help themselves — those three baskets came courtesy of two turnovers and two offensive rebounds.
UConn quickly regained control and went on another 10-0 run, sparked by five straight points from Edwards. Through three quarters, the Huskies held a 16-point lead.
That gap proved to be enough to get the win. UConn managed just 11 points in the fourth quarter but only allowed 15. UNC got as close as eight at one point, but the Huskies answered both times — first on an elbow jumper from Edwards that beat the shot clock, then on a 3-pointer from Mühl.
Even though UConn shot just 4-14 from the floor in the fourth quarter, North Carolina only went 6-17 and committed four turnovers. In the end, the Huskies came out with a 12-point win.
Next, UConn will take the week off for finals before returning to action on Saturday against Louisville at the XL Center.