Geno Auriemma gets 1,200th win as UConn women’s basketball routs Seton Hall, 67-34

HARTFORD — Geno Auriemma’s 1,200th career win wasn’t a pretty one, but the record book doesn’t care about the box score. The UConn legend became the fastest college basketball coach to hit the milestone with a 67-34 victory over Seton Hall on Wednesday night at the XL Center.

In his 39th season with the Huskies, Auriemma is now one of three coaches to reach 1,200 wins. The Hall of Famer joins longtime Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer (1,206 wins) and former Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski (1,202) as the only others to hit the milestone, and it took both VanDerveer and Krzyzewski at least 45 seasons.

“The challenge today is to prove, not that I can do it, because I don’t have to prove anything to anybody. Except I have to prove to myself that I still can do it,” Auriemma said after the win. “That’s probably a harder fight than the one back then, to prove it to yourself … I fought hard for wins in the 80s and 90s, and I find that we’re still fighting that fight just as hard today. That’s a good feeling.”

The No. 11 Huskies (20-4, 12-0 Big East) had one of their worst shooting performances of the season against the Pirates (13-10, 5-7), making 42% from the field and 26.7% from 3-point range. However, poor shooting was overcome by a stifling defensive effort from UConn that left Seton Hall even worse off as the Pirates made just two field goals in the entire first half and finished 12-for-54.

“It kind of takes me back to some of the games we played in the mid 1980s,” Auriemma joked. “They were all 60-something. There weren’t a whole lot of points being scored. It was hard generating offense. But some games the ball just doesn’t find the basket and you have to find ways to do some other things until it turns.”

As UConn struggled to get shots to fall, freshman Ashlynn Shade came in clutch with four of UConn’s five 3-pointers in the first half. Aaliyah Edwards dominated the paint from the opening whistle, logging nine rebounds in the first 10 minutes of the game plus four points and a steal.

Edwards finished with 18 points and a season-best 15 rebounds for her fourth double-double in five games. She was just as impactful on the defensive end of the floor as the senior logged a team-high three offensive rebounds, and added two blocks and two steals with zero turnovers.

“It’s just about staying solid, staying dominant towards my rebounds, just having a relentless approach to getting either myself or my teammates extra possessions,” Edwards said. “I know most of them were on the defensive end, but I still think that helped us gain more momentum with our transition offense. Especially going into the second half, that really helped us pull away the lead.”

Production was underwhelming from most of the Huskies, including Paige Bueckers. The superstar guard had 32 points in UConn’s first meeting with Seton Hall but managed a single field goal before halftime and finished with 13 points on Wednesday. She shot 46% from the field and went 1-for-7 from beyond the arc, marking her fourth straight game with just a single made 3-pointer. Shade stepped up to have her best night in weeks though, finishing right behind Edwards with 17 points and making half of the team’s 3-pointers.

“It’s still so surreal to me. Every time I step on the court, it’s just so cool that I get to wear UConn across my chest and play alongside players like Paige and Aaliyah,” Shade said. “They’re generational players. You don’t come by them very often, so it’s just super cool to be a part of this.”

It took UConn three and a half minutes to record its first field goal of the third quarter, predictably on an and-one layup from Edwards. A made jump shot from Bueckers nearly six minutes into the second half recharged the Huskies offense, and the star guard went on a solo 9-0 run over two minutes late in the third. She also added a transition assist to Nike Muhl off of a steal to make it 11 unanswered points.

Foul trouble remains an ongoing concern for the Huskies, who already have limited personnel thanks to five season-ending injuries on the roster. The team was called for a combined 15 fouls, and KK Arnold spent most of the fourth quarter on the bench after picking up her fourth. Muhl was also assessed three fouls, her third game in the last four with at least three. Seton Hall scored eight points on 11 free throw attempts, while UConn got to the line seven times for five points.