Women’s Basketball: No. 4 Huskies lose consecutive games for the first time in 30 years 

2/5/23 WBB fs USC by Erin Knapp The UConn Women’s basketball team takes on South Carolina at the Hartford XL Center on Sunday, Feb. 5. Despite leading in the first quarter and tying in the second, UConn was defeated 81-77 by South Carolina. This is the first time the two teams have played against each other since the final game of March Madness in 2022, when South Carolina beat UConn.

Two consecutive losses.  

A losing streak sounds like a fantasy when it comes to UConn women’s basketball, but on Wednesday night at the Al McGuire Center, it became a reality. The No. 4 Huskies, 364 days removed from losing their first conference game in nine years, lost back-to-back games for the first time since 1993. 

Meanwhile, it was a night to remember for head coach Megan Duffy and the Marquette Golden Eagles, who picked up their first win against UConn in program history 59-52. Three days after giving it their all and coming up just short against the No. 1 South Carolina Gamecocks at home, the Huskies got tired in the first quarter and crumbled under the pressure in Marquette’s fierce atmosphere. 

But before showing signs of fatigue and slowing down, UConn started out the game on a 6-0 run in almost similar fashion to their first meeting against the Golden Eagles back in December. A steal-and-score from Rose Nkumu over three minutes into the game provided Marquette with the spark needed both for the frame and for the entire game, however. 

Lou Lopez-Sénéchal made a basket to temporarily stop the bleeding, but after that, Jordan King went on a 10-0 run by herself to propel the Golden Eagles ahead. Aubrey Griffin ended the Huskies’ nearly four-minute scoring drought with a drive to the paint and a floater, but another breakaway basket from Nkumu and a late floater from Chloe Marotta gave Marquette a six-point advantage. 

The second quarter started out with UConn going from bad to worse on both ends of the floor as the Golden Eagles responded by opening the frame on a 7-0 run. King did not get a bucket during the stretch, but a layup from Liza Karlen and a three from Emily La Chapell turned the Huskies’ deficit into a double-digit hole. 

Nika Mühl got UConn on the board in the frame as she drove for a bucket and Dorka Juhász came up with a layup in the paint following two missed shots from Marquette to give the offense some momentum before breaking out on an 8-0 run to make it a one-possession game. Despite holding Marquette to four points in the final seven minutes of the half, UConn entered the locker room down five after missing its last two jumpers. 

UConn came out of the locker room looking like the team that played its heart out on Sunday, answering every blow from the Golden Eagles to begin the frame before tying the game on a 7-0 run. But every time the Huskies pulled within one possession of the lead, Marquette’s stout defense prevented them from regaining the advantage.  

Notably, Marotta carried a bucket she made late in the first half over into the third as she scored eight points in the frame including her sixth three of the season. Facing another five-point hole, UConn spent the rest of the quarter continuing to cut into the deficit, but could not tie the game on multiple occasions. 

Lopez-Sénéchal scored the team’s first three points in the final frame, but the combination of the Golden Eagles’ defense and the Huskies’ offensive struggles prevented them from making a field goal in the opening two minutes of the period. Those struggles continued as Marquette expanded their lead, and not even a Griffin free throw could stop them as they made a seven-point advantage with 3:45 to play. 

UConn, who had found itself in almost this exact same situation late against the Gamecocks, still had a fighting chance as Juhász answered a jumper from Marotta with the team’s second triple of the game, but it would not be enough to complete a stunning comeback and steal victory from the jaws of defeat. La Chapell converted a layup following a timeout and a turnover by Griffin forced the Huskies to foul multiple times in the final minute as reality started to hit. 

Even with the Golden Eagles struggling to ice the game at the line, they still found a way to extend the lead to 10 as UConn could not convert a bucket to save its life. A three from Mühl and a layup in the closing seconds from Griffin amounted to nothing as the Huskies lost their first conference game of the season and Marquette bolstered their March Madness resume with a statement home win. 

Juhász picked up her ninth double-double of the season and led all players with 15 points and 11 rebounds while Lopez-Sénéchal and Griffin had 12 points apiece on eight combined field goals. UConn, 19 turnovers and a season-low in points among other things, shot 40.4% from the field and 3-13 from downtown as its lack of depth finally caught up. Not even Lopez-Sénéchal crossing the 2000-point mark or Mühl picking up her 200th assist of the season could ease the sting the Huskies experienced from a disappointing performance. 

Marquette, meanwhile, played like the better team and like they had nothing to lose. King, who had four points in their first meeting, had 18 points in 32 minutes while playing most of the contest in foul trouble. When she was out of the picture however, Marotta stepped up with 19 points on 7-13 shooting, 15 of which came in the second half and almost had a double-double with nine rebounds. Despite being limited to four points, Liza Karlen grabbed 10 boards of her own. The Golden Eagles shot 22-60 from the field and shut down UConn defensively in transition as it has now won five out of its last six. 

The fatigued Huskies (21-4, 13-1 Big East) wrap up their last road trip of the season at McDonough Arena, another tough Big East environment to play in, as they take on the Georgetown Hoyas. Tipoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 11, on SNY. 

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