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No. 5 UConn women’s basketball falls to No. 1 South Carolina, 81-77

The Huskies put up a good fight but they came up just short in a close loss.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn women’s basketball competed to the end in a loss to No. 1 South Carolina at the XL Center on Sunday, 81-77.

The Huskies were ahead by 11 after the first quarter but went into the half tied and didn’t lead at any point in the second half. The Gamecocks won the rebounding battle 42-30, had 25 second-chance points, and out-scored UConn’s bench 37-0.

Aaliyah Edwards led the Huskies with 26 points on 10-of-14 shooting while Lou Lopez Sénéchal added 19 points and Aubrey Griffin had 17 while Nika Mühl added 11.

UConn limited Aliyah Boston to three points on 0-of-5 shooting in the first half but the reigning national player of the year went off in the second half, scoring 23 points. Kamilla Cardoso dominated down low with 17 points and 11 rebounds while Raven Johnson had 14 points.

UConn got off to the strong start it wanted after one quarter. Nika Mühl provided an early spark with a game-high nine points through 10 minutes while Aubrey Griffin was active on both ends of the floor.

But as has been the case recently, the Huskies faded in the second. They made just three field goals in the quarter as South Carolina slowly whittled away at the deficit. Twelve of the Gamecocks’ 20 points in the period came in the paint while nine came off second chances. UConn scored just one point over the final two minutes as South Carolina pulled even at the half.

The Gamecocks took the lead in the third quarter and never looked back. The Huskies got within a one-possession game multiple times in the fourth but couldn’t get the stop and score necessary to pull even. Head coach Geno Auriemma picked up a technical after spiking a water bottle with 3:57 left to extend South Carolina’s lead to eight points, which proved difficult for UConn to overcome.

The Huskies did have a chance to claw back when Cardoso got whistled for both a technical and common foul, leading to four straight free throws. However, UConn only went 2-of-4 from the line, cutting the deficit to eight instead of six with 1:11 left.

At that point, the Huskies had to foul and South Carolina made enough free throws to seal the victory.

Next, UConn will return to Big East play, traveling to Marquette on Wednesday for an 8 p.m. ET game that will be televised on SNY.