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UConn unravels in 82-67 loss to No. 15 Notre Dame

On an off night for Paige Bueckers, the Huskies relinquished an early lead and never recovered.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn women’s basketball suffered its first home loss of the season, falling to No. 15 Notre Dame at Gampel Pavilion, 82-67. The Huskies’ depleted roster didn’t have enough to sustain an off night from Paige Bueckers, as they dropped their first game since December 3rd.

Bueckers still tallied 17 points on the night, but was not her normal picture of efficiency, shooting 5-17 from the floor. That combined with Nika Muhl playing just 19 minutes due to foul trouble and missing nearly the entire fourth quarter was too much for the Huskies to overcome.

The Huskies were struggling defensively, unable to use that end of the floor to make up for some of their offensive struggles. Notre Dame’s freshman sensation Hannah Hidalgo had no trouble getting what she wanted, tallying a game-high 34 points. UConn also allowed 23 from Maddy Westbeld. The trio of Hidalgo, Westbeld, and Sonia Citron each played all 40 minutes and combined to outscore the Huskies’ entire team.

Aaliyah Edwards was a bright spot despite the loss. She asserted her dominance with 23 points, going 10-14 from the field while grabbing 11 rebounds. Ashlynn Shade added 12 points and KK Arnold had 11.

The game started out with the Huskies and Irish trading buckets. UConn started to create some separation at the end of the first quarter, ending it up seven as Edwards and Shade were thriving.

UConn built the lead up to double digits early in the second quarter, appearing ready to blow the game open. Instead, the Irish stormed back, using a 12-0 run to tie things back up at 30.

The Huskies had no answer for Hidalgowho had 19 points on 7-12 shooting in the first half. The defensive struggles, combined with foul trouble for Muhl and Bueckers’ struggles (Bueckers had just four first half points), made a bad run worse. With Muhl and Bueckers on the bench and all four freshmen on the court, Notre Dame kept rolling, taking a nine-point lead into the halftime break.

Bueckers knocked down a three to start the third quarter, signaling a shift in the momentum to start the third quarter. At that time, with some Husky legends in the crowd making their way to the student section, and Gampel beginning to liven up, Buckers started to find Edwards in the post.

Edwards knocked down four straight shots in the lane to tie things back up with just under five minutes left in the third quarter, but that’s where the turnaround for the Huskies ended. UConn and Notre Dame traded buckets, but neither could create much separation to finish the third as the Huskies headed into the final quarter down three.

In the fourth quarter, UConn’s defensive struggles hit a head. Muhl fouled out with over nine minutes left, leaving them dependent on Bueckers’ heroics to bail them out in the fourth quarter, but her shots weren’t falling. The Huskies hit just 2-12 from the floor in the final period, allowing Notre Dame to run away with a 15-point win.

The Huskies (17-4, 9-0 Big East) return to action on Wednesday, resuming Big East play against Villanova on the road.