UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP)UConn got both a star player and a bit of the team’s swagger back on Saturday in the Big East quarterfinals.
Azzi Fudd eased her way back onto the court with 10 points in 17 minutes for the Huskies, while Aaliyah Edwards and Dorka Juhasz led the way with double-doubles in a 69-39 rout of Georgetown.
Edwards had 19 points and 13 rebounds. Dorka Juhasz had 13 points and 10 rebounds and Lou Lopez Senechal added 14 points for the top-seeded Huskies (27-5), who have won six of their last seven games.
Fudd returned from a pair of knee injuries that cost her 22 games this season, including the last 14.
“It’s been tough having to be on the sidelines so much, having to watch everyone struggle through all the ups and downs they’ve been through,” Fudd said. “But that was my motivation just to keep working hard. My goal was to get back on the floor.”
Kelsey Ransom had 12 points to lead Georgetown (14-17).
The Huskies shut down the Hoyas offense, holding Georgetown to 20% shooting from the floor (13 of 64). That included allowing just five baskets on 36 shots before halftime and a single field goal in the second quarter – a jumper by Ransom that came more than eight minutes into the period.
UConn led 35-12 at the half and pushed the lead to as many as 33 points in the third quarter.
Coach Geno Auriemma said having Fudd on the floor made a difference for the Huskies who hadn’t won a game by more than 10 points since January.
“I don’t know that anybody on our team can have a similar impact that she can,” he said. “She’s going to play good defense. She had four assists today and she’s going to make shots. So, the impact that she’s going to have on the team, you can’t calculate the meaning of that because it’s just everything.”
With the return of Fudd, the Huskies had 10 available players to start a game for the first time since November. But that lasted less than a half. Caroline Ducharme, who missed 13 games this season with a concussion, took another blow to her head in the second quarter and did not return.
Auriemma said Ducharme hopes to play on Sunday, but nothing has been determined.
The Huskies advanced to a conference semifinal for a 35th consecutive year. They are attempting to win a 28th league tournament title and 10th straight. It would be their third in a row since rejoining the Big East.
Georgetown: The Hoyas lost six of their final seven regular season games before beating Butler 53-46 in the opening round of the tournament. The Hoyas hope better things are ahead, led by Ransom, a junior, and Kennedy Fauntleroy, the unanimous choice as the Big East freshman of the year.
“I like the youth of this team,” coach James Howard said. “Now, it’s about the development of the youth in this team going forward.”
UConn: The Huskies are currently projected as a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament after going 7-3 over their final 10 games of the regular season, with each of those games being decided by 10 points or fewer. Winning a 10th straight conference tournament could bump the Huskies up to a top seed.
The Huskies outscored Georgetown 30-10 in the paint and outrebounded the Hoyas 57-38.
“I think that we stuck to the game plan defensively and we flowed offensively off of their turnovers and off of our defensive rebounds,” Edwards said. “So I think that was a good flow for us.”
Fudd missed her first four shots from the floor, but received a huge ovation after hitting back-to-back 3-pointers in the second half. She finished 3 of 9 from the floor and 2 of 6 from 3-point range.
“I wasn’t worried,” said Fudd, who was averaging just under 18 points a game before her injuries. “I knew that I’ve been doing well and just have confidence in all the work I’ve put in and not to overthink it. What happens happens. If I miss, I’ll make the next one.”
UConn will face Marquette on Sunday. The Golden Eagles beat No. 4-seed St. John’s 57-47 in the quarterfinals. The teams split their regular season-games with the Huskies winning 61-48 at home on New Year’s Eve and Marquette winning in Milwaukee, 59-52 on Feb. 8.
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