Tue. Jan 25th, 2022

UConn’s Nika Muhl reacts in the first half against Xavier on Saturday in Hartford.

After UConn’s eight-point win over Creighton Sunday, coach Geno Auriemma challenged his seniors, telling them the team needed more, especially with Paige Bueckers sidelined until February with a knee injury.

In the two games since, including Saturday’s Big East contest at the XL Center versus Xavier, the Huskies’ seniors have done just that.

Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Christyn Williams led the way again to guide the Huskies to a 78-41 victory over the Musketeers.

Freshman Caroline Ducharme chipped in 20 points, scoring at least 14 points for the sixth time in the last seven games.

Williams made her impact felt all over the court with 19 points on 13 shots, five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Nelson-Ododa did the same with 11 points, a career-high eight blocks, six rebounds, five steals and four assists.

UConn’s offense was hot and cold at times, but the defense was solid, forcing 24 Xavier turnovers and holding them to 27% shooting. Making her second straight start, sophomore Nika Mühl helped set the tone on that end of the floor.

UConn (9-3, 4-0) scored the first 11 points of the game and led by as many as 17 in the first. Williams missed her first shot, a 3, but made her next four attempts to finish the period with 10 points.

Nelson-Ododa made her presence known inside with her defense and rebounding, while Ducharme rattled off nine early points as well.

Similar to the Butler game, UConn’s suffocating defense caused fits for Xavier, forcing eight first-quarter turnovers, but the Musketeers (6-9, 1-5) exploited the Huskies in transition as the quarter went on to get a few buckets.

The Huskies were sluggish on offense to start the second quarter, missing all but one of their first eight shots. They found some life in transition when Williams hit Ducharme twice for the score, the first one a layup and the second a 3.

Both baskets were made possible by Nelson-Ododa’s defense on the other end. Those shots were part of a 16-6 run the Huskies used to close the first half up 48-23.

Williams led the way with 15 points on eight shots, while Nelson-Ododa added 11 points, five rebounds, six blocks and four steals all before the break.

The Huskies added to their lead with a quiet third quarter where they outscored the Musketeers 14-8 to go into the final 10 minutes ahead 62-29.

Sophomore Piath Gabriel started the fourth quarter and scored four straight layups, finishing with a career-high nine points, while Amari DeBerry entered minutes later and chipped in two.

The Huskies played all nine available players and each scored.

UConn is back in action Monday at Oregon, its third-to-last nonconference game of the regular season.

Ice Brady in the house

Isuneh “Ice” Brady, one of UConn’s two signees in the class of 2022, was in attendance with her high school team from San Diego, Cathedral Catholic. Brady and her team were participating in Hoophall in Springfield this week.

UConn's Christyn Williams (13) is guarded by Xavier's Nia Clark (1) during the Huskies' win Saturday in Hartford.

UConn’s Christyn Williams (13) is guarded by Xavier’s Nia Clark (1) during the Huskies’ win Saturday in Hartford.

This article originally appeared on The Bulletin: No. 10 UConn rolls to win over Xavier

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