This Friday, Feb. 5, the UConn Huskies (13-1, 11-0 Big East) visited the Marquette Golden Eagles (12-3, 9-2 Big East) and came away with a dominant 87-58 victory.
Though Marquette is currently second in the Big East, behind only UConn, Friday’s matchup was a wire-to-wire win for the Huskies. They outscored the Golden Eagles 21-14 in the first quarter, and then in typical UConn fashion, they tightened up defensively and improved as the game went on. After starting the second half up 41-22, the Huskies offense exploded with 30 third quarter points. From there, they cruised to a convincing road win against a strong conference opponent.
Perhaps the most impressive feat for the Huskies on Friday was that even the ever-demanding head coach Geno Auriemma couldn’t help but commend his team’s effort. Auriemma said that the team’s defense was strong, which led to even better offensive opportunities than they’ve been getting all year. “I thought we were pretty locked in defensively for the majority of the game … That defensive mindset allowed us to flow into a really good offensive rhythm. The ball was really moving well and we were cutting well,” he said. “That’s one of the best things we’ve done this year. I’m really proud of them.”
Though UConn got contributions from all over the lineup, this game belonged to the freshmen. The three freshmen who played big minutes, Paige Bueckers, Nika Muhl and Aaliyah Edwards, combined for 49 of UConn’s 87 points. Bueckers, who made a career-high 6 three-pointers, and Muhl who set career-highs in assists (9), rebounds (7) and steals (5) were particularly excellent. Auriemma said that the freshmen class has been so successful due to a rare level of competitive fire. “The energy that the freshmen have is pretty high-level … They know how hard they have to compete,” he said.
For Bueckers in particular, Auriemma says the secret to her success is simple. “She’s being Paige. She’s being about as good a player as there is in the country right now.”
The Huskies’ next game is on Monday, Feb. 8 against the No. 2 South Carolina Gamecocks at the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.