Down Goes UConn: Wildcats Snap Huskies’ Streak, 72-69


Courtesy of Olivia Pasquale/Villanovan Photography

Lior Garzon (above) led the Wildcats with 19 points in the victory.

Meghann Morhardt, Co-Sports Editor

On Wednesday night, Villanova achieved something that hasn’t been done since 2013 as it handed UConn its first conference loss in 169 games. The Wildcats stormed into the XL Center in Hartford, CT, defeating the Huskies 72-69. 

It had been even longer since the Wildcats had defeated UConn, the last time being Feb. 28, 2004 when Villanova came away with a narrow 59-56 victory at home. 

The Wildcats had four players in double figures, led by sophomore Lior Garzon with 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting including 5-10 from beyond the arc. Reigning Big East player of the week, junior forward Maddy Siegrist, finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds, her seventh double-double of the season and the 31st in her career. 

Graduate forward Brianna Herlihy also recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, to go along with five assists and two steals. Freshman guard Lucy Olsen tallied 11 points on 4-7 shooting and recorded seven assists with just one turnover. 

The Huskies were led by freshman guard Azzi Fudd with 29 points on 11-20 shooting, including 4-8 from deep to go with five rebounds and two assists. Senior guard Christyn Williams added 24 points, including four threes, as well as three rebounds and two steals. 

From the jump, the Wildcats out-hustled and out-worked the Huskies, winning the boards by a margin of 37-21 including 12-4 on the offensive end. Villanova’s defense, coupled with a hot streak to start the game, was the key to their success. 

“We went countless possessions without getting a bucket, but I felt that we stayed within what we had to do and forced them to use some time on the offensive end,” said Villanova head coach Denise Dillon. “Our defense came up pretty big for us for sure.” 

Villanova shot 51.8% from the field including 10 threes on 22 attempts while recording 18 assists on their 29 field goals. UConn finished the game shooting 48.2% from the field, 50% from behind the arc.

The Wildcats opened the game on a 12-2 run over the first four minutes, holding the Huskies to 1-4 shooting and forcing three turnovers in that stretch. UConn tried to respond but the ‘Cats, led by two threes from Garzon, continued to extend their advantage, leading by as many as 15 before taking a 25-15 lead into the second quarter. 

The Huskies made some adjustments, holding Garzon scoreless in the second period, but Siegrist and Olsen, with six each, were able to keep them at a comfortable distance. Despite outscoring Villanova 19-16 in the quarter, UConn could not muster more than two consecutive baskets without a Wildcat response on the other end, never getting within five points. A big basket from Olsen followed by a strong stop on the defensive end gave Villanova a 41-34 lead at the halftime break. 

The third quarter saw the ‘Cats get hot again, scoring 21 points on 8-14 shooting, including 4-5 from deep. UConn attempted just nine shots and totalled five turnovers in the period. 

With 6:27 remaining in the third, the Wildcats grabbed four offensive rebounds in the same possession, a moment indicative of their effort on the night. Villanova held the Huskies scoreless for over four minutes while going on a 16-3 run, eventually stretching the lead to 17 entering the final 10 minutes of play. 

Garzon opened the fourth quarter with her fifth three of the night, giving the Wildcats a 65-47 lead. The two teams suddenly went cold, UConn scoring just five points over the next six minutes while Villanova failed to score at all. Siegrist ended the drought with a jumper at the 2:53 mark to extend the Wildcat lead back to 15. 

Against any other Big East opponent, this lead would feel comfortable, but the Huskies would not go away, jumping out to a quick 11-1 run to shrink the deficit to five with just over 30 seconds to play. UConn called a timeout following a Fudd layup and began to intentionally foul, targeting Olsen. The freshman was able to hit 1-2 from the line to extend the lead to six. 

Two free throws from Williams, followed by a Fudd layup brought the game within two with just nine seconds remaining. The Wildcats successfully inbounded the ball to Herlihy who was fouled with two seconds left, sinking one of her two attempts after missing her last four. 

A full court heave from Williams was no good as time expired and the ‘Cats rushed the court in celebration. 

“I’m so proud of this group,” said Dillon. “They just came in, they were locked into what we had to do and to get a big win like this at this time in the season is remarkable.” 

The Wildcats will try to carry this momentum into Friday as they return home to face Marquette, looking to complete the season sweep of the Golden Eagles. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. and the game will be televised on FS1.