The 1-9 matchup in the conference tournament is rarely a competitive one. This becomes especially true when the top seed is also a top 10 team in the country. It also doesn’t help when the squad brings back a generational talent like Azzi Fudd, who had been hurt for nearly two months with a knee injury. All the odds were against the Georgetown Hoyas when they faced off against the No. 9 UConn Huskies Saturday in the quarterfinals of the 2023 Big East Tournament. Unfortunately for the Hoyas, the odds were right, as they lost 69-39, effectively ending their season.
“It’s never smooth when you play that first game, it’s just not flawless,” said UConn coach Geno Auriemma. “I thought there was a 20-minute stretch where we played great on both ends of the floor. We accomplished most of what we wanted to.”
“Tough night,” noted Georgetown coach James Howard. “We definitely got the best of UConn. Their defense off the start took us out of things we wanted to do. Once you get down, they just continue to come.”
The headline was Fudd’s return, as she notched just 17 minutes, easing back into things. In that sample size, she added 10 points and four assists to the effort, providing a positive impact on the winning effort. Her last game before Saturday was a narrow victory against the Hoyas, where she left after playing just 12 minutes.
She initially aggravated her knee in December against Notre Dame, and hasn’t been back to form since. Prior to that, she was looking like a serious contender for National Player of the Year, averaging better than 29 points per game in her three games against top 10 competition. Her ability to get anywhere near the level she’d been playing at before the injury is the X-factor in Connecticut’s championship push.
“It’s been tough having to be on the sidelines,” noted Fudd. “That was my motivation. Working hard everyday in rehab to get here. I was really nervous, but I’ve been doing well in practice. I just had the mindset that even if I missed, the next one will go in.”
More notable in this particular game was Aaliyah Edwards, who had already completed a double-double early in the third quarter. She finished the game with 19 points, 13 boards and four blocks, all team-highs. Edwards collected her all-Big East first team and Most Improved Player prior to tip, a reminder of how much she’s grown this year. The junior has more than doubled her scoring averages and has been the star player for a Husky squad having a tough year.
“It was a great first game for us,” Edwards mentioned. “We played great defensively. We flowed offensively off of their turnovers and off of our rebounds.”
Another double-double came from grad-student Dorka Juhasz, who put up 13 points, 10 rebounds and three dimes. She was coming off a missed game on senior night after she re-aggravated her ankle against Villanova. The big duo of her and Edwards has been sensational this season, the best the Huskies have had in some time.
It took the Huskies a few minutes to figure themselves out, as Kennedy Fauntleroy hit a pair of shots to put Georgetown ahead. Lou Lopez-Senechal had the big answer, with four straight points before Juhasz converted on the and-one to get Connecticut up seven. From there, the Hoyas found themselves in foul trouble, recording seven, which resulted in nine made UConn free throws. It also didn’t help that Georgetown finished the first quarter 1-14 from the field, good for a measly eight points.
Connecticut played excellent defense to start the second frame, holding the Hoyas to a single point in the first five minutes. In that span, Edwards had four of the Huskies eight points and all of a sudden it was a 16 point game.
Fudd got a layup after a backdoor cut and then she found Lopez-Senechal wide open in the corner for the triple. Georgetown scored just four points in the period, leaving them in a 23 point hole at the break. Towards the end of the quarter, Caroline Ducharme, who has been dealing with concussion issues all year, took a shot to the face and had to exit, not a good omen to her health.
“I’ve never seen a kid have the circumstances that have happened to her,” said Auriemma of Ducharme. “I don’t know what came out of it. I think that we’ll know more later, but Carol says she wants to play tomorrow. Her head is a magnet for elbows.”
Kenley Ransom came out of the locker room on a heater for the Hoyas, scoring seven points in the first three minutes for the half. That cut the deficit to 20, but Edwards created her own 6-0 run, securing the double-double.
Fudd hit a pair of threes and Edwards and Muhl contributed layups, bringing the Husky lead all the way up to 33. With the outcome completely out of the question, there was little action for the rest of the game as the Huskies pulled out a 30 point victory.
The Huskies advance to the semifinals on Sunday, where they’ll play Marquette, a team they lost to the last time they met.