No. 7 UConn cruises past Marquette in Big East semifinals

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Geno Auriemma says he is starting to see the UConn team perform like the ones who won 11 national championships.

To cruise past No. 7, the seventh-ranked Huskies relied on depth and their trademark stifling defense to win. Marquette was the 5th seed, beating No. 51 by 71 in the semis of the Big East Tournament.

Auriemma stated that it took a long time to get there. It’s something we haven’t taken for granted. But I can see it, and I know that many people are like it. This is how I am used to UConn doing it.

Evina Westbrook had 14 points and Christyn Williams and Dorka Jhasz had 13. The Huskies (24-5) will be playing Sunday for a ninth consecutive conference tournament title. This includes seven that they won as members of the American Athletic Conference.

Paige Bueckers was the national player of year and provided support for the Huskies. She played 18 minutes, and had two points, two assists, and two rebounds. This was the sophomore’s fifth game since her return from a left-knee injury which kept her out for more than two months.

Karissa McLaughlin scored 15 points, and Jordan King added 12, for Marquette (21-10). They must be happy to have earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Marquette shot just 31% from the floor after hitting a tournament record 65.7% in Saturday’s 105-85 victory over DePaul. They scored more points than any of their four previous opponents, all of whom were under 40.

Westbrook stated that “our defense is looking really great.” “We are being aggressive, and we’re covering up a lot of our defense mistakes.”

UConn scored the game’s seven first points and never trailed. Williams scored 13 points in the Huskies quarterfinal victory over Georgetown. On Sunday, Williams added eight points to help the Huskies take a 22-6 lead.

Marquette had 54 points in the first half on Saturday. UConn’s lead was cut to 33-10 when Antwainette Walk hit a pull-up jumper halfway through the second quarter.

Megan Duffy, coach, said that it was “the highest of highs yesterday”, they were making every effort and that the first quarter was very cold. “And that led to them getting almost everything they wanted in the first quarter — open 3s, downhill attacks, and open 3s. They also had some open back cuts, which was kind of what we couldn’t recover from.”

At halftime, the Huskies led 39-18 and 59-32 at three quarters.

BIG PICTURE

Marquette: This was Marquette’s sixth consecutive appearance in semifinals. They had won the Big East Tournament title in 2017, and lost in the championship games in every tournament since.

UConn: The Huskies are looking for their 20th Big East Tournament championship title and will be playing in their 25th Big East Championship game. They have reached 18 consecutive conference finals. The Huskies are now 14-0 against Marquette, which they beat last month in Milwaukee, 72-58, and Hartford, 69-38.

DEPTH

UConn is now more healthy than it was in the past, when eight players were forced to miss at least two games due to illness or injury. Nine Huskies played for at least 15 minutes Sunday.

Juhasz stated that this means they are more fresh than the opposition.

Juhasz stated, “Sometimes you can feel that the opponent is getting tired.” “So, if you can run the floor a bit harder, that will show on your offense and defense.”

STATS OF THE GAMES

Below, Connecticut was the dominant team. The Golden Eagles had 60 points Saturday in the paint, but were outscored by UConn in the lane 36-10 and outrebounded 41-33.

UP NEXT

UConn will face No. Villanova, 2nd seed, will play UConn for the Big East title on Monday night.