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UConn women’s basketball battles past Villanova, 81-60

The Wildcats kept it close for a while before the Huskies pulled away in the third quarter.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn women’s basketball used a big second half to earn a tough road win over the Villanova Wildcats on Wednesday night, 81-60.

The Huskies led by just one after 20 minutes and trailed with 6:36 left in the third quarter. But they outscored the hosts 39-17 the rest of the way. They also held Lucy Olsen, the top scorer in the Big East, without a single point over the final 19:34.

Aaliyah Edwards dominated, scoring 22 points while grabbing seven rebounds, making her last six shots. Paige Bueckers dropped 22 points with five assists and five rebounds. Nika Mühl recorded her second double-double of the year with 12 points and 10 assists along with five rebounds. KK Arnold chipped in 13 points while Ice Brady had three blocks.

UConn doubled up Villanova in the paint, 44-22, and had a 16-6 edge in points off turnovers despite having two more giveaways than the hosts.

UConn got Olsen in foul trouble less than five minutes in, sending her to the bench. After that, the Huskies went on an 8-0 run to take a 15-7 lead. But they failed to make a single basket over the final 3:55, which opened the door for the Wildcats to claw back into the game. UConn held a one-point edge through 10 minutes.

The second quarter was fairly even. Villanova went ahead by one in the final minute during another scoring drought from UConn, but Edwards hit a pair of free throws to give the Huskies a one-point lead going into the break.

Edwards and Bueckers combined for 21 of the team’s 37 points at the midway point.

UConn dealt with another dry scoring spell early in the third quarter — going 3:31 without a point — which allowed the Wildcats to take a one-point lead early in the third quarter.

At that point, Edwards decided she’d seen enough. She sparked a 10-0 run behind six points from herself and also drew defensive attention away from the basket to allow Mühl to drive for a layup. The Huskies also started to dictate the pace and pushed the ball up the floor instead of continuing with the rock fight that Villanova wanted.

UConn ended the third quarter with its largest lead of the day at 59-49 then held Villanova to its lowest point total (11) in any period during the fourth to secure a 21-point victory.

With the win, the Huskies improve to 18-4 on the season and 10-0 in the Big East. Next, UConn will return home to take on St. John’s at Gampel Pavilion on Sunday. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network.