Women's College Basketball

Bueckers scores 25 as Huskies crush undefeated Golden Eagles


UConn Huskies forward Aaliyah Edwards and Marquette Golden Eagles forward Liza Karlen battle for a jump ball during Sunday’s game at the XL Center in Hartford. Photo by Steven Zarrella/Sportspage Magazine

The Marquette University Golden Eagles knew they would have a tough matchup to end the calendar year when the schedule was released. They had to travel to the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., for a game against the UConn Huskies, a team they have not had much success against in history. In fact, dating back to 2006, the Golden Eagles only defeated the Huskies once, a 59-52 win nearly a year ago, on Feb. 8, 2023 on their home court. So how did they fare against the Huskies in Hartford on Sunday? They got trounced 95-64.

The game started with a 10-0 Golden Eagles run with a three pointer and layup from forward Liza Karlen, and three free throws from guard Jordan King. The Huskies began to trade baskets until a Karlen layup made the score 17-7 with 5:34 remaining in the opening quarter.

UConn forward Aaliyah Edwards and guard Paige Bueckers took control of the offense and the Huskies ran off a 13-0 run to end the quarter with a 26-21 lead.

Bueckers hit a jump shot to open the second quarter which was answered by a layup from forward Frannie Hottinger. This was followed by another UConn run, this time an 11-0 run with two layups from Edwards, a jumper from Bueckers and a jump shot and free throw by guard Aubrey Griffin. This coincided with a scoring drought by the Golden Eagles, which ended with a Karlen layup with 5:23 remaining in the half. UConn had a 41-27 lead.

UConn Huskies guard Paige Bueckers led all scorers with 25 points in Sunday’s game against the Marquette Golden Eagles at the XL Center in Hartford. Photo by Steven Zarrella/Sportspage Magazine

The Golden Eagles were having difficulty overcoming a tough Husky defense, while Bueckers, Griffin and Edwards continued to make their way to the net. UConn held a 17-point 53-36 lead at halftime. At one point in the half, UConn held a 23-2 lead on second chance points.

If Marquette thought they could get back into the game in the third quarter, the Huskies slammed that door shut immediately when the game restarted. After Golden Eagles guard Mackenzie Hare hit a three-pointer to begin the second half, UConn went on a 6-0 run as Karlen headed to the bench after picking up her third foul.

After Golden Eagles guard Rose Nmuku hit a jumper with 7:29 left in the third quarter, making the score 62-43 in favor of the Huskies, the Marquette shooting went cold. The Golden Eagles missed ten consecutive field goal attempts. UConn pounced with a 14-1 run to put the game solidly out of reach. The Huskies outscored the Golden Eagles 27-11 in the quarter and held a commanding 80-47 lead going into the final frame.

Even though Marquette outscored UConn 17-15 in the fourth quarter, neither team went on long scoring runs, answering each other basket-for-basket instead. King, Hottinger and forward Skylar Forbes took on the scoring responsibilities for the Golden Eagles, while Griffin, guard Nika Muhl and forward Ice Brady picked up the pace for UConn. Most of the starters for both teams headed to the bench early as the game’s outcome was not in question. When the final horn sounded, UConn won 95-64.

UConn Huskies guard Nika Muhl attempts to block a shot by Marquette Golden Eagles guard Rose Nmuku during Sunday’s game at the XL Center in Hartford. Photo by Steven Zarrella/Sportspage Magazine

UConn went 38-for-73 from the field (52.1 percent); 8-for-23 from three-point range (34.8 percent); and 11-for-17 from the free throw line (64.7 percent). The Huskies were led by 25 points from Paige Bueckers; Aaliyah Edwards added 19 points and led all rebounders with 12. Nika Muhl led the Huskies with seven assists, to go with her career-high 10 rebounds. For Edwards, it was her fifth double-double in the last six games.

“After the initial start, it was 17-7 at one point, something like that, I think we all picked it up a little bit,” said UConn head coach Geno Auriemma. “We all kind of understood. And those two [Bueckers and Edwards], when they’re both really aggressive, it makes Connecticut a different basketball team, when they get like that.”

“The secret with them is that you’ve got to play great defense against them. They just have too many ways that they can score, and I thought our defense [tonight] was fantastic,” he added.

Marquette went 21-for-61 from the field (34.4 percent); 6-for-21 from beyond the arc (28.6 percent) and 16-for-21 from the charity stripe (76.2 percent). The Golden Eagles were led by 16 points from Jordan King; 13 points from Liza Karlen, who also led the team with seven rebounds; and Mackenzie Hare’s 12 points. Rose Nkumu’s seven assists led her team in that category.

Marquette Golden Eagles forward Skylar Forbes gets swarmed by UConn defenders Qadence Samuels (4) and Ice Brady (25) while in the paint during Sunday’s game at the XL Center in Hartford. Photo by Steven Zarrella/Sportspage Magazine

“[I’m] just disappointed overall with our effort on defense. I thought Connecticut was tremendous,” Marquette head coach Megan Duffy said. “We didn’t really have an answer and I thought we would respond a little bit out of halftime, and actually they shot their best percentage from the field in the third quarter.”

“But just a lot of firepower, a lot of athleticism, their second chance opportunities in that first half really, really hurt us and got us down after a pretty good start by us in the beginning of the game,” Duffy added.

Entering the game, the Golden Eagles were ranked 18th and were one of eight undefeated teams left in NCAA Division I basketball, while the Huskies were ranked 15th. Now Marquette falls to 12-1 overall, 1-1 in Big East play, while UConn improves to 10-3 overall and 2-0 in the Big East conference standings.

UConn travels to Creighton (9-3) for a 6 p.m. CT matchup on Wednesday, while Marquette visits St. John’s (7-7) also on Wednesday at 6 p.m. CT.

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