STORRS, Conn. (AP)Lou Lopez Senechal and Aubrey Griffin scored 18 points apiece and No. 3 UConn beat Providence 98-53 Friday night in the Big East Conference opener for both teams.
Azzi Fudd scored 17 points, Aaliyah Edwards had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Nika Muhl added 12 assists – her fourth straight game with at least 10 assists – for unbeaten UConn (6-0).
”We were doing what we do best, moving the ball and playing with a lot of energy,” Fudd said. ”I think that is the best way to play basketball when everybody is involved.”
Grace Efosa scored 11 points and Logan Cook finished with 10 points and eight rebounds for Providence (6-3).
”I told the team, and we saw in person, UConn is playing as well as anybody in the nation right now,” Providence coach Jim Crowley said. ”They’re moving the ball with great pace, their hoop looks like the ocean and they are sharing it really well. We knew we were coming into a bit of a buzz saw, but I thought it was really good to go through that and we had a couple really bad moments, but also some really good moments to go off of as well.”
UConn made its first five shots and jumped out to the 10-0 lead before Kylee Sheppard got Providence on the board.
The Huskies were 12 of 14 from the field in the first quarter in building a 29-8 lead. The Huskies are one of the better 3-point shooting teams, but they made nine baskets before attempting their first 3-pointer. Aggressive drives to the baskets gave UConn a commanding lead early in the first.
”I want us to be more than one dimensional in terms of relying on one way to get our points,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. ”I thought we would have opportunities to get to the rim and I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly it happened in the first quarter with Aubrey, Azzi and Lou. So if we can sprinkle in a little bit of that and still shooting 3s at a high percentage, I think that makes us a little harder to play against.”
The Friars did score on four straight possessions, with two of the baskets by Brynn Farrell, but the Huskies were never threatened. When Lopez Senechal beat the halftime buzzer with a 3-pointer, UConn led 54-25 at the break.
Griffin had 15 points and Fudd 13 in the first half. Providence’s top scorer, Janai Crooms, missed all three of her shots and was scoreless in the first half. She didn’t attempt her first shot after the break until 8:34 remained in the second half. Crooms came into the game averaging 16.1 points and finished with four.
UConn will face its fourth ranked team when it faces Notre Dame in South Bend.
”It is not going to be easy by any stretch of the imagination, especially with them coming off a loss with the environment we are going to be walking into,” Auriemma said. ”It is a great test. It will probably be our toughest test of the season so far. I am looking forward to seeing how we respond to all of that.”
Providence is off to a 6-3 start, with all the games against unranked teams. The Friars lost their 32nd straight against UConn. The last Providence win against UConn came in the semifinals of the 1993 Big East tournament.
UConn warmed up for its first road game against a ranked team. The Huskies play at seventh-ranked Notre Dame on Sunday. The Huskies won their conference opener for the 10th season in a row.
Providence: Hosts No. 25 Villanova on Sunday.
UConn: At No. 7 Notre Dame on Sunday.
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