No. 2 UConn struggles early, but beats Seton Hall 70-49

NCAA Basketball

STORRS, Conn. (AP)No. 2 UConn suffered a bit of a big-game hangover after beating top-ranked South Carolina earlier this week, but recovered in time to cruise past Seton Hall.

Freshman Paige Bueckers scored 23 points and the Huskies won 70-49 on Wednesday night after spotting the Pirates an early 11-point lead.

Olivia Nelson-Ododa added 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Huskies (15-1, 12-0 Big East).

”We looked sluggish,” coach Geno Auriemma said. ”I guess that was to be expected a little bit. We didn’t really get started until the third quarter.”

Mya Jackson and former UConn player Andra Espinoza-Hunter each had 15 points for Seton Hall (9-4, 7-3), which had won its last five games and six of its previous seven.

The Pirates led 21-10 early in the second quarter and held a 27-26 advantage at halftime, forcing 13 UConn turnovers over the first 20 minutes.

But the Huskies used a 12-0 third-quarter run to take a 47-37 lead, before the Seton Hall cut that back to 49-43 on a 3-pointer by Espinoza-Hunter.

Bueckers scored the first five points of the fourth quarter and the Huskies outscored Seton Hall 21-6 in the final frame.

”I think once we started getting everybody involved and moving at the pace that we usually do, things really opened up for us,” Nelson-Ododa said.

Desiree Elmore had 10 of her 12 points in the first-quarter for Seton Hall.

Evina Westbrook scored 12 points and pulled down eight rebounds, while Aaliyah Edwards added 11 points and seven boards for the Huskies, who outscored the Pirates 40-18 in the paint.

BIG PICTURE

Seton Hall: Espinoza-Hunter transferred from UConn after her freshman season and spent two years at Mississippi State. She had originally opted out of this season because of COVID-19 concerns, but instead transferred to Seton Hall and in December was granted a waiver to play by the NCAA. She came into the game averaging just over 21 points.

”Andra has made a difference on the court, but double the amount off the court,” coach Tony Bozzella said. ”Her maturity and work ethic has really rubbed off on our team.”

UConn: The Huskies, who spent the last seven seasons in the American Athletic Conference, have not lost to a league opponent in 151 games, since falling to Notre Dame in the Big East championship game in 2013…. Bueckers has now scored 20 points or more in six straight games.

STATS OF THE GAME

UConn turned the ball over 18 times, but just five times in the second half. Seton Hall scored just seven points from those giveaways. Connecticut had 25 points off of 19 Pirate turnovers. The bigger Huskies also won the rebounding battle, 46-32.

EYES ON

UConn’s win over South Carolina on Monday had an estimated 461,000 viewers on FS1, making it the most-watched women’s college basketball game in the channel’s history.

HE SAID IT

Auriemma, who is 66 and turns 67 next month, got his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday before the game.

”I just wanted to see if somebody could make a shot and the nurse was great, stuck the needle in me – swish,” he said. ”It was the first swish I’ve seen in a long time other than Paige, so I feel 100% better.”

UP NEXT

Seton Hall: The Pirates head home to host Creighton on Saturday.

UConn: The Huskies are scheduled to travel to Washington D.C. for a game at Georgetown on Friday.

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