Women’s Basketball: No. 2 Huskies flatten No. 15 Vermont with 43-point first round victory

3-18-2023 WBB March Madness Round 1 vs Vermont by Izzi Barton UConn Women’s Basketball annihilates the Vermont Catamounts 95-52 in the first round of the NCAA Women’s Tournament in Gampel Pavilion on Saturday, Mar. 18, 2023. The Huskies move on to the second round which will be played in Gampel on Monday, Mar. 20, 2023.

For the second straight year, the UConn women’s basketball team entered March Madness with five losses, possessed a No. 2 seed, and faced a conference tournament champion who had won at least 12 straight games in the first round. Almost similar to last year’s first round game, the Huskies walked into the second round, rolling past the 15th-seeded Vermont Catamounts 95-52. With the win, UConn crossed the 90-point mark for the first time since Jan. 23.

The Associated Press named Aaliyah Edwards as a Third Team All-American earlier in the week, a selection head coach Geno Auriemma suggested should have been higher given the circumstances the team has experienced. In her first game since winning the Big East Tournament Most Outstanding Player award, Edwards dominated on both ends of the floor, scoring 12 points in the first quarter and finishing with 28 in just 29 minutes.

“We did not have an answer for her,” Vermont head coach Alisa Kresge said after the game. “She works so hard. She never gives up.”

Although Edwards did not secure a double-double in her fourth straight game, Dorka Juhasz picked up her third double-double in four games with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Playing in her first NCAA Tournament game since last year’s Elite Eight in Bridgeport, the graduate forward continues to add to her repertoire on offense and defense.

“She is a force inside and outside,” Edwards said about her teammate. “I think that as a team we love that about her because she is unpredictable in that way.”

UConn erupted out of the gate to kick off their 34th consecutive tournament appearance, opening the game on a 7-0 run. The Catamounts shifted their defensive approach across the rest of the frame, burying two triples and forcing multiple turnovers to stay within 10 multiple times throughout the period. Despite their best intentions, Edwards scored as many points on five field goals as Vermont did in the first quarter. Connecticut had a 15-point advantage after 10 minutes, but they opened the floodgates throughout the second quarter.

Behind three players each scoring six points, the Huskies outscored the Catamounts 26-8 in the frame and used multiple stretches of scoring eight or more straight points. In addition to their white-hot offense, UConn’s defense stifled any shot the Catamounts had of trying to rally throughout the game, keeping them off the board in the opening four minutes of the frame.

Vermont challenged UConn throughout the third quarter with the hopes of cutting into the 33-point halftime deficit. The Catamounts buried three triples in the first five minutes of the frame, but the Connecticut offense continued to score in bunches even with Lou Lopez Senechal sustaining an apparent injury and Aubrey Griffin not playing a minute in the second half. Edwards remained a force in the paint, but Caroline Ducharme provided an immediate spark off the bench with a layup and a three. Behind that charge and answering almost every shot Vermont made, the Huskies’ advantage never fell lower than 30 points.

Possessing an insurmountable lead through three quarters, the Connecticut bench brought the knockout punch in the final frame. Ayanna Patterson did the most damage in the period, making half of her shots for six points while Bettencourt buried a three and jumped up to reject a shot. Combined with two layups from Amari DeBerry and 11 total rebounds, UConn finished off the Catamounts and advanced to the second round of March Madness for the 29th straight tournament.

“That is a great way to start,” Auriemma said about the game. “Hopefully we can build on that Monday night.”

Every Husky checked into the game, making at least one field goal and securing at least one rebound in at least five minutes on the court. Ducharme finished with 12 points and shot 4-4 from the field while Nika Muhl finished one point shy of a double-double with nine assists. UConn shot 62% from the field with six threes, outrebounding Vermont 43-19 and outscoring them 54-10 in the paint.

Behind four triples, three of which came in the second half, Catherine Gilwee led the Catamounts with 14 points while Emma Utterback and Maria Myklebust each scored 13 with at least two threes. Vermont buried 11 long-range shots, their second highest total on the season, and made nine twos at a 33% clip from the field.


The Huskies (30-5) take on the No. 7 Baylor Bears in the second round at Gampel Pavilion on Monday, March 20. The Bears roared back to beat the No. 10 Alabama Crimson Tide in the first round 78-74 after being down 22-4 in the first quarter. The last time both programs dueled, UConn bested Baylor in the Elite Eight two years ago 69-67 en route to their 13th straight Final Four appearance. Since that instant classic, Hall of Fame head coach Kim Mulkey left for LSU and has been replaced by Nicki Collen, who previously coached for the Atlanta Dream.

All-Big 12 First Team selection Sarah Andrews leads the team with 15 ppg and 75 threes, but Ja’Mee Asberry is just as dangerous on offense. After dropping 26 points and burying seven triples against the Crimson Tide, expect the graduate transfer from Oklahoma State to continue taking shots from the perimeter with vengeance on her mind after not being selected to an all-conference team. 

Big 12 Freshman of the Year Darianna Littlepage-Buggs is a defensive stalwart as she averages 9.3 rebounds and leads the team with 28 blocks. Even though Alabama limited her to seven boards in the first round, expect the All-Big 12 Honorable Mention to contest for every missed shot against both Edwards and Juhasz. Put that together with Jaden Owens’ 180 assists and All-Big 12 Second Team selection Caitlin Bickle’s 12.2 ppg, and the Bears are as tough of an out as any team in the Seattle 3 region.

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