Women’s Basketball: Huskies drop 115 points in exhibition victory over Kutztown

11-6-2022 WBB v Kutztown by Izzi Barton, Staff Photographer UConn Women’s Basketball defeat the Kutztown Golden Bears 115-42 at the XL Center in Hartford on Nov. 6, 2022. The next women’s basketball game will be on Thursday, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. in Gampel Pavilion.

The UConn women’s basketball team unofficially began its 2022-23 season with an exhibition game against the Kutztown Golden Bears, a D-II school almost 70 miles from Philadelphia that is ranked No. 23 in the preseason polls. 

Despite the disparities in divisions, Kutztown grabbed a 10-6 lead in the first quarter after going on an 8-0 run. No timeouts were called during that stretch, but the Huskies responded with a 7-0 run to recapture the lead and never relinquished it from there. 

Rather than focus on the game itself, a 115-42 UConn victory where it outscored the Golden Bears 61-18 in the second half, it makes more sense to highlight the performances that certain players had on the court. 

In her first appearance and start as a Husky, Lou Lopez Senechal showed why she won the MAAC Player of the Year last season at Fairfield. Through the first 20 minutes, Lopez Senechal had 18 points on 7-12 shooting with half of UConn’s three-point baskets. 

Although she did not score as many points in the second half, Lopez Senechal provided the pressure with three rebounds, three steals and an assist. Lopez Senechal finished with 22 points while going 9-16 from the field and receiving a lot of “Lou” chants. 

Playing in her first game since the Elite Eight against the North Carolina State Wolfpack, Dorka Juhasz looked like she had not lost a step, scoring 12 points in the first half while going 5-5 from the field in 13 minutes. Juhasz, who had a strong second half in just seven minutes, went a perfect 2-2 from beyond the arc and shot 7-8 overall as she finished with 20 points and seven rebounds. 

“I do not think we saw the real Dorka last year,” head coach Geno Auriemma said after the game. “I think she is going to have a big year.” 

Azzi Fudd struggled in the first half, only converting two three-pointers on six total shots, but came alive after the intermission. In the third quarter alone, Fudd made four threes on six attempts from beyond the arc and got credited with two assists. Fudd finished with 29 points, going 9-16 from downtown, after knocking down three more three-pointers in the final quarter and recorded five assists. 

“Azzi did what Azzi does,” Auriemma commented. 

Ayanna Patterson, the Preseason Big East Freshman of the year, made an impact in the 21 minutes she played. Although the forward shot 4-11 from the field and scored 10 points, she collected 10 rebounds, six of which came on the offensive side of the ball, to earn a double-double in her unofficial collegiate debut. 

“She could be a really important piece on our team,” Juhasz said about Patterson. 

11-6-2022 WBB v Kutztown by Izzi Barton, Staff Photographer UConn Women’s Basketball defeat the Kutztown Golden Bears 115-42 at the XL Center in Hartford on Nov. 6, 2022. The next women’s basketball game will be on Thursday, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. in Gampel Pavilion.

Muhl enters this season as the reigning Big East Defensive Player of the Year, and she made her presence felt on that end of the court with five steals and two blocks. Muhl also had a strong day on offense, flirting with a triple-double as she scored seven points, grabbed eight boards and led the team with 11 assists. 

“Nika plays the game a certain way and she sets everything on fire,” Auriemma explained. “A big assist night for her should be a common occurrence.” 

The defense itself played a critical role as the game progressed. After allowing 18 points in the first quarter and 10 in the opening three minutes, the Huskies shut down the Golden Bears, limiting them to 24 points over the final three quarters while forcing 21 turnovers and committing 14 steals. 

Playing in her first game since the 2020-21 season due to a back injury, Aubrey Griffin received a plethora of applause from the fans in her return to the court. Griffin got the crowd on her feet every time she went to go for a basket, finishing with six points while going 2-4 from the field in 23 minutes.  

“We are so happy to have Aubrey back on the court with us,” Muhl told the crowd after the game. 

Given that Paige Bueckers and Ice Brady are already out for the season with knee injuries sustained during practice, the injury woes could not get any worse, but they did. Caroline Ducharme did not play in the exhibition after sitting out the past few practices with neck stiffness and was not present on the sidelines during the second half. 

“She is just trying to get her stiff neck loosened up and we are having a hard time with that,” Auriemma commented about Ducharme’s injury. “It is going to be something that maybe she will have to deal with all year long, I do not know.” 

To make matters worse, Lopez Senechal hobbled after a turnover during the fourth quarter, holding on to her Achilles area as she limped to the ground. Despite the XL Center turning into a library during the moment, Auriemma affirmed that she only suffered a cramp to the side of her leg. 

As a team, the Huskies shot 42-74 from the field, good for a 56.8% clip, and 14-29 from three-point range. UConn dominated every facet of this game, outrebounding Kutztown 51-22, outnumbering them in assists 28-10 and outscoring them off of turnovers 46-4. Out of the nine players that checked into the game, eight of them got on the scoresheet and all of them played more than seven minutes. 

“I think we did a great job of sharing the ball,” Juhasz commented after the game. “Defensively, I think the second half was much better.” 

As for the Golden Bears, Naia Pulliam led the way with eight points on 3-7 shooting, Annie Whalen had seven and Sydney Pierson scored six points with four rebounds. Kutztown shot 29% from the field while scoring 16 points off the bench and picking up six blocks. 

UConn officially begins their regular season against the Northeastern Huskies on Thursday, Nov. 10, at 7 p.m. on SNY. 

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