Saturday, Jan. 9, the 6-0 UConn Women’s Basketball team hosted the 5-6 Providence Friars at the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion looking to extend their season-long winning streak. Though the Huskies started slowly, they were ultimately able to move their record to 7-0.
Going into Saturday’s game, the Huskies had not played since before New Years, and their lackadaisical play reflected that. Despite being by far the more talented team, the Huskies entered the second quarter with only a 19-18 lead. This slow start prompted head coach Geno Auriemma to go to his bench early in the game, which turned out to be a stroke of genius. From the second quarter on, UConn outscored the Friars 68-32 and finished the game with an 87-50 victory.
Once Auriemma inserted sophomore Aubrey Griffin (18 points, 9 rebounds) and freshmen Nika Muhl and Mir Mclean into the game, UConn began to play much better. The three combined to play 56 minutes and Auriemma described their energetic play as the turning point in the game.
“We put a group of players out there that picked up the tempo, and that’s what changed the game,” Auriemma said. “We need their energy, and they bring that.”
In addition to Griffin, four other players scored in double figures. Evina Westbrook, who’s still recovering from a knee injury that sidelined her a year ago, played particularly well with 13 points in 25 minutes.
“I thought she showed a real assertiveness today,” Auriemma said. “I thought she was very aggressive in her approach. She instigated a lot of stuff instead of waiting for it to happen.”
Like Griffin, Paige Bueckers, who led the team in points and assists (23 points, 5 assists) had an excellent game. Auriemma says that her shot selection is strong enough that he trusts her to shoot whenever she’s confident.
“She knows she has the green light to shoot whenever she wants from wherever she wants,” he said. This strategy paid off for the Huskies on Saturday.
UConn plays next on Saturday, Jan. 16 against Villanova.