STORRS, Conn. (AP)Caroline Ducharme’s return after missing 13 games with a concussion came at just the right time for the UConn Huskies.
The sophomore guard scored all 10 of her points in the fourth quarter, including the winning free throws with just under 5 seconds left, and No. 6 Connecticut came from behind to beat Creighton 62-60 on Wednesday night.
Ducharme, playing for the first time this calendar year, was 0 for 6 from the floor before her late scoring surge helped UConn (23-4, 15-1 Big East) overcome an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit.
”And it wasn’t an easy 10,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. ”But they’re the kind of points we’re used to seeing Caroline get in those moments. So, she’s back just in time. It’s a great Valentine’s Day gift.”
Lou Lopez Senechal scored 17 points to lead the Huskies, Aaliyah Edwards had 12 and Dorka Juhasz added 10 points.
Morgan Maly had 15 points for Creighton (18-7, 12-5), which lost for the first time in seven games. Rachael Saunders and Lauren Jensen each had 13.
Creighton trailed by two points at the half, but opened the second half with 3-pointers from Maly and Saunders – part of a 19-1 run that stretched back into the first half.
The Bluejays held UConn without a point for the first five minutes of the third quarter, turning a 30-21 deficit into a 40-31 lead. They led 48-39 after three quarters.
Saunders’ 3-pointer in the fourth quarter made it 50-39 before the Huskies began chipping away.
A three-point play by Ducharme drew the fifth foul on Saunders and cut UConn’s deficit to 57-54.
Edwards made a layup to make it 57-56, and Lopez Senechal’s layup gave the Huskies a 58-57 lead. But Morgan Maly responded with a 3-pointer to put Creighton back up with 1:07 left in the game.
Lopez Senechal responded with a jumper to tie it at 60, then drew an offensive foul on Maly off the ball with 16 seconds remaining.
Ducharme drove into the lane with 4.8 seconds left, drawing a foul on Carly Bachelor and calmly hit the two foul shots to give UConn the winning points.
”Just being out on the floor was a big step for me and just being able to handle everything that goes with being in the game – the lights, the noise all of that and still being able to play basketball,” Ducharme said. ”So, then I think once I was able to settle in and adjust to that, I think going through the game, I think we all knew that we all needed to step up and hit shots.
”So I think that was all that was really on my mind is that we needed some offense.”
Edwards fouled Lauren Jensen on a drive with 0.7 seconds left. But the junior guard missed both foul shots, the second intentionally, and Edwards grabbed the rebound to secure the win.
”It sucks to lose the way we lost tonight, but it also should give us confidence if we see these guys in 2 1/2 weeks,” Creighton coach Jim Flanery said. ”We’d have a great chance and this is a kinda team that we are going to see in the NCAA Tournament. So from that standpoint, we’ve given ourselves a great look at what it’s going to take to be successful and tonight we were one basket short.”
UConn won the first meeting this season in December, 72-47, in Omaha.
Creighton: The Bluejays fell to 11-3 on the road, matching the most road wins in Flanery’s 21 seasons at the school. … The Bluejays hit 12 of 33 3-point attempts after shooting just 3 of 28 in the loss in December.
UConn: The Huskies had nine players available for the first time since Dec. 21… G Azzi Fudd, who had been the Huskies leading scorer, has missed 17 games this season after twice injuring her right knee. Auriemma said he still has no timeline for her return.
Creighton outrebounded the bigger Huskies 39-31, but UConn outscored the Bluejays in the paint 22-14.
One other Husky returned from the disabled list Wednesday. Jonathan XIV, the team’s canine mascot, made his first appearance at a game since undergoing surgery to remove his spleen on Jan. 20. The dog received a standing ovation.
Creighton: The Bluejays return home to face Georgetown on Saturday.
UConn: UConn travels to Philadelphia to take on No. 14 Villanova on Saturday.
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