Chicago, IL — With the cancellation of No. 10 UConn’s Thursday game against No.1 South Carolina, the Huskies instead came to face-off against DePaul at Wintrust Arena. Originally, UConn was set to be in Chicago to play at DePaul on New Year’s Eve, but the game was postponed because of COVID-19 issue with the Huskies’ program.
Both programs are very familiar with each other considering the two legendary head coaches, DePaul’s Doug Bruno and UConn’s Geno Auriemma, have a long history. Not only have the two coached together and against one another, but they are also close friends. Bruno served under Auriemma in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, and their competitiveness is what drives their relationship.
When their teams are set to tip-off against each other, it’s a different story: they aren’t friends during the game.
UConn was without their star guard, Paige Bueckers, who suffered a knee injury and underwent surgery last month. Bueckers was espnW 2021 Player and Freshmen of the Year and received a number of accolades following last basketball season.
Following closely in Buecker’s footsteps in her freshman season is DePaul’s forward, Aneesah Morrow. A 6-1 Chicago native, Morrow is currently leading the team with 20.3 points per game, 12.5 rebounds, and 2.7 steals in 27.5 minutes per game.
With first place in the Big East on the line, DePaul and UConn did not disappoint in a thrilling matchup. While the Huskies didn’t have their young star, the Blue Demons did and she was up for the highly anticipated game.
Despite Morrow leading all scorers with 30 points, the win ultimately ended with the No. 10 Huskies winning, 80-78.
The physicality in this game was intense, to say the least. Both teams were taking punches (not literally) and had no time to feel sorry for themselves in this close match-up. Each team went on their respective runs to get separation yet neither team could ever close the door completely on their opponent.
UConn’s Caroline Ducharme made a layup in the final seconds of the game — in fact, there was only one second left for DePaul on the clock and no timeouts left to advance the ball. Morrow shot a three-point heave however, it wasn’t close.
At the conclusion of the game, I asked Coach Auriemma if the last offensive segment was drawn up for Ducharme or if the talented guard just saw an opportunity to attack the basket.
“We knew we wanted the ball in Caroline’s hands. She’s aggressive and has a nice finish around the rim,” Auriemma said.
The Blue Demons were led by Morrow who tallied her 16th double-double of the season with 30 points and 14 rebounds. Wednesday night she showed there is no doubt her name will be in the mix at the conclusion of the season for a number of awards — some that go beyond the rookie level.
For the Huskies, Ducharme led the way with 19 points while Azzi Fudd returned to the line-up and chipped in 15 points.
The future is bright for the Big East. The young stars are showing a bright future for this competitive conference.