No. 4 UConn escapes with 72-69 win over DePaul, clinch top seed in Big East Tournament
CHICAGO (AP) — Aaliyah Edwards scored 16 points, including two clutch baskets down the stretch, and No. 4 UConn edged DePaul 72-69 on Saturday to clinch at least a share of the Big East regular season championship.
DePaul led by as much as seven in the second half and was nursing a four-point lead late in the fourth of a tight, physical, contest, but Edwards and Lou Lopez Sénéchal scored to tie it at 65 with 3:10 left.
Then Edwards scored off a turnover with 2:40 to go to put the Huskies ahead. Nika Mühl nailed three-pointer from the corner with 1:13 to go for a 70-65 UConn lead.
Anaya Peoples hit two free throws and then a layup with 17 seconds left to pull the Blue Demons to within one. DePaul star Aneesah Morrow raced down the court in the final seconds with a chance to win it, but was forced into a turnover with nine seconds left.
Muhl, who finished with 13 points, sank a pair of free throws with seven seconds remaining to ice it. Peoples missed a three-pointer just before the buzzer.
Aubrey Griffin finished with 14 points and nine rebounds for UConn (26-5, 17-2 Big East).
Huskies forward Dorka Juhász scored 13 points and pulled in eight rebounds despite suffering an injury with 1:12 left in the first quarter. She scored 10 of UConn’s first 17 points before getting hurt, then returned in the second quarter after receiving treatment.
Morrow scored 25 points and pulled in eight rebounds, but the Blue Demons (15-15, 8-11) lost another tight one to the Huskies. DePaul has dropped 23 straight to UConn, dating to Dec. 29, 1983.
Morrow was dominant despite frequently facing tight double-team coverage by the Huskies. Darrione Rogers scored 15 and Keke Rimmer had 10 points and 10 rebounds. Peoples finished with 11 points.
The teams were tied 37 all after a tight, physical first half. DePaul scored the first five points for the biggest lead either team had in the opening 20 minutes.
Morrow, was dominant for the Blue Demons with 10 points and six rebounds in the half while playing 19 minutes. Griffin matched Juhász with 10 points in the half.
Rimmer hit a jumper from the paint with 25 seconds left in the third to give DePaul a 57-50 lead, a seven-point margin that was the largest in the game.
UConn: The Huskies have been hampered by injuries and the loss of Juhasz, who entered averaging 14.4 points and 34.7 minutes, would have hurt heading into March. The 6-foot-5 Hungarian graduate student curled up on the floor near the basket for a minute late in the first half before being helped off and favoring her right leg. The Huskies are still without star Azzi Fudd, who re-injured her right knee on Jan. 15 versus Georgetown. Fudd, who has missed a total of 21 games this season, hopes to return in time to help UConn make a run next month at a 12th national title. … Only two Huskies, Edwards and Lopez Sénéchal have played every game this season.
DePaul: Morrow, a sophomore from Chicago, entered as DePaul’s leading scorer with 744 points for the season, 60 short of a team record 804 set by Diana Vines in 1988-89. She also entered as the team’s rebound leader, with 105. Nazlah Morrow, Aneesah’s sister, along with starting guard Rimmer were two Blue Demons seniors honored before DePaul’s final home game.
UConn: Concludes regular-season play when it hosts Xavier on Monday.
DePaul: At Marquette on Monday in its regular-season finale.