INDIANAPOLIS (AP)Aaliyah Edwards scored 20 points and No. 5 UConn opened with a 20-5 run in an 80-47 blowout of Butler on Tuesday night.
Despite dressing just eight players and not having head coach Geno Auriemma on the sideline due to illness, the Huskies had five double-digit scorers led by Edwards, a junior forward who made 10 of 12 shots. She also grabbed nine rebounds as the visitors had a 35-19 edge on the boards.
”This season has been unlike any other,” said associate head coach Chris Dailey, who improved to 16-0 as Auriemma’s replacement. ”It’s worse than the Covid season because during Covid every time you took a test, someone could be out or we could be shut down. (Now) every other day, we get one person back and then we lose one. It makes you tougher. It makes you stronger as a group.”
UConn (12-2, 5-0 Big East) has won all four meetings with the Bulldogs (6-9, 1-5) by an average of 43.7 points.
”It brings us together,” Edwards said of the depleted roster. ”We’ve been going through the seven or eight rotation for a couple of weeks now. We’re adjusted to it.”
Aubrey Griffin added 15 points, Nika Muhl 13, Dorka Juhasz 12 and Lou Lopez Senechal 11 for the Huskies.
”The pace is something we talk about a lot at UConn,” Dailey said. ”There’s a pace that we expect and we needed to get back to that because, in our last game against Marquette, we didn’t push the pace the way that we needed to.”
Rachel McLimore led the Bulldogs with 18 points, including four 3-pointers.
Butler, missing two injured starters, missed its first six shots and 8 of 11 to fall behind by 15 at the start. The Bulldogs cut the deficit to five points in the second quarter before the Huskies pulled away for good.
Huskies guard Caroline Ducharme, who averaged 15.3 points in the past three games, didn’t make the trip due to a concussion. The Huskies had their seventh different starting lineup.
”All these things, everything we’re going through, is going to help us down the road,” Dailey said.
UConn: Despite missing several key pieces, including 2021 National Player of the Year Paige Bueckers for the entire season and leading scorer Azzi Fudd since Dec. 4, the Huskies remain one of the nation’s elite women’s programs.
Butler: Coming off a 34-point loss at Seton Hall, this was another humbling result for the Bulldogs, who lost for the fourth time in five games by double digits. But considering the team managed only one win last season, the six this season under first-year coach Austin Parkinson is a marked improvement.
UConn: Visits Xavier on Thursday.
Butler: Visits Villanova on Sunday.
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25