STORRS, Conn. (AP)No. 4 UConn used a stifling defense and a dominant inside game to pass its first test of the season against a ranked opponent.
Olivia Nelson-Ododa had 16 points and 14 rebounds Tuesday night to lead the Huskies to a 75-52 win over No. 18 DePaul.
Freshman Paige Bueckers added 18 points for the Huskies (6-0, 5-0 Big East), who had five players score in double figures.
”It’s really big for us, especially knowing that DePaul averages like 88 points a game and we held them to 52,” Bueckers said.
Darrione Rogers had 20 points and 10 rebounds to lead DePaul (5-3, 2-1), which made 16 of its 64 shots (25%), including 9 of 37 (24%) from 3-point range.
”UConn is always, if not the toughest team, it’s certainly one of the one or two toughest teams we get to play against year in and year out that makes it difficult to get open looks and they did that again tonight,” DePaul coach Doug Bruno said.
Connecticut shot 8 of 27 from behind the arc, but won the game in the paint, where it outscored DePaul 38-12. Nelson-Ododa hit seven of her 11 shots for her third double-double this season and the 12th of her career. Eight of her 14 rebounds came on the offensive end.
”Just to be able to get those second-chance opportunities, it’s really crucial, especially when the coaches really emphasize that for us,” she said.
Christyn Williams scored the 1,000th point of her career on a layup that gave UConn an early 4-0 lead, but the Huskies led just 20-16 after a quarter.
A 3-pointer by Bueckers from the left corner gave the Huskies their first double-digit lead at 28-17 and UConn took a 38-27 advantage into intermission.
Williams finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists, despite going 5 of 13 from the field.
”To be able to play a game of basketball and play well when you’re not shooting the ball well, I think that’s a sign that someone is growing up as a player and evolving as a player and I think Christyn is doing that,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said.
DePaul: The Blue Demons fell to 1-3 this season against ranked opponents, with losses to Texas A&M (93-91) and Louisville (116-75) and a win over Kentucky (86-82). The Blue Demons have never beaten the Huskies during Auriemma’s tenure, losing all 18 of those games. Their only win against UConn came 37 years ago, on Dec. 28, 1983.
UConn: The Huskies came into the game holding opponents to 23% shooting. They have not allowed an opponent to shoot better than 35% or score more than 65 points.
”We said going into the game that we needed to have a really, really good defensive night, that we needed to be on our game and we needed to force some difficult shots,” Auriemma said. ”And we did. We made a lot of good decisions defensively.”
The win was the 1,097th of Auriemma’s career, leaving him one behind the late Pat Summitt for second place behind Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer (1,101 wins) on on the all-time list.
BACK FROM INJURY
UConn freshman forward Aaliyah Edwards returned from an ankle injury after missing the Huskies’ last game and put up 11 points. Freshman guard Nika Muhl returned from a foot injury that kept her out three games. She played six minutes and had two assists and a rebound, but did not score.
DePaul: The Blue Demons head to Milwaukee to face Marquette on Sunday.
UConn: The Huskies are scheduled to be off until a Jan. 7 game at No. 7 Baylor.
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