UConn’s 71-38 win over Seton Hall on Friday night kept alive one of the most improbable and impressive streaks in sports.
The ninth-ranked Huskies, who lost at Oregon on Monday night, have not dropped consecutive games since March of 1993, long before any of their current players were born. The streak spans 1,037 games.
“When you see how easy it is to lose a game, when you see how easy it is to not play well and get beat, you just marvel at what was happening during all that time,” coach Geno Auriemma said. “It doesn’t make any sense. But here we are.”
The Huskies did it Friday with just eight healthy players.
Olivia Nelson-Ododa led the way with 17 points, 14 rebounds and five assists. Evina Westbrook added 13 points and Dorka Juhasz had 12 points and nine rebounds for Connecticut (10-4, 5-0 Big East), which won its 166th straight conference game. That streak dates to March 2013.
The Huskies played stifling defense and dominated Seton Hall (8-8, 3-5) underneath, outrebounding the Pirates 53-25, including 17-2 on the offensive end. They outscored the Pirates 38-8 in the paint.
“Whatever the game plan was, we got it right almost the entire game,” Auriemma said.
Sidney Cooks led the Pirates with 10 points.
The Huskies took their first advantage at 5-2 on a layup and foul shot from Juhasz. The Ohio State transfer had seven first-quarter points and Connecticut led 21-11 after 10 minutes.
Nika Muhl’s second 3-pointer of the game sent the Huskies into halftime up 37-21, and they doubled up the the Pirates 34-17 after intermission.
Muhl finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
“We shot just six of 30 from the 3-point line, but we were still also in the position to get offensive rebounds, to get second-opportunity shots,” Nelson-Ododa said. “So I think that’s something that we did really well tonight.”
Seton Hall: The Pirates shot 26% (14 of 53) from the floor and had two second-chance points while giving up 21 to UConn.
“We’re a high-scoring team, and they did a good job of taking away our first look and by the time we got to our third, fourth option their size gave us a lot of problems,” Seton Hall coach Anthony Bozzella said. “Until you see it in person, it’s really hard to practice, especially on the road.”
UConn: The last time UConn dropped two in a row was when it closed the 1992-93 season with losses to Providence in the Big East Tournament and Louisville in the NCAA Tournament.
Senior guard Christyn Williams (14.6 points per game) missed a second game because of COVID-19 protocols. She is expected to be out at least through Sunday. The Huskies are still without reigning national player of the year Paige Bueckers (left knee), who is expected back in mid-to-late February. Top recruit Azzi Fudd has been out since Nov. 22 with a right foot injury and and forward Aubrey Griffin recently underwent season-ending back surgery.
“This is a very weird place we’re at right now with people out, everything going on,” Muhl said. “We’re going through hell, literally. But we’re going to get through it.”
STUCK IN PARK
Seton Hall’s Lauren Park-Lane was coming off consecutive 30-point games in wins over Providence and St. John’s. She hit one of 11 shots on Friday and finished with five points. Andra Espinoza-Hunter, who began her career at UConn before transferring to Mississippi State and then Seton Hall, finished with six points after scoring 25 against St. John’s.
Seton Hall: At Marquette on Wednesday.
UConn: At St. John’s on Sunday.