Storrs, Conn. — For the first time in 13 years, Northeastern women’s basketball went down to Storrs, Connecticut to face off with Geno Auriemma’s Huskies. Playing against the No. 6 team in the country, Northeastern did their best to compete with UConn, but couldn’t take home an upset win.
At the end of the night, Northeastern looked up to see a 98-39 final on the scoreboard — a disappointing result but still an improvement from the last time the two teams faced off in 2009, when then-No. 1 UConn defeated Northeastern 105-35 at Gampel Pavilion.
That game featured future WNBA stars Maya Moore and Tina Charles, who both played for UConn at the time. And while this 2022-23 squad isn’t the same UConn team that made it to the national championship last year, it still has plenty of highly touted talent.
Coming into the season, however, UConn was without one of the best players in the country in junior guard Paige Bueckers, and they were missing two others for Thursday’s game, leaving them with just nine active players.
But nine was all UConn needed to topple their Northern opponents, as they got out to a commanding 29-9 lead by the end of the first quarter. Foul trouble started on the very first possession when UConn forward Dorka Juhász, a 6’5” graduate student, won the tip over Northeastern’s 6’2” sophomore forward Asha Parker, and junior guard Nika Muhl buried a triple to give UConn a 3-0 lead.
Ten seconds later, UConn stole the ball and got an easy layup. That’s how the game went for the most part, UConn triple or layup, Northeastern turnover, UConn triple or layup.
Northeastern did their best to contend, but the size and athleticism of UConn always kept them at an arm or two’s distance. Northeastern’s biggest threat, junior guard Derin Erdogan found herself deep in foul trouble with four fouls over her eight minutes of play in the first half.
Without their top scorer and the best playmaker of the squad, players like junior forward Halle Idowu and sophomore guard Gemima Motema did their best to contribute to the team’s point total. The duo consistently used their speed and crafty footwork to drive in and get shots at the rim but very few fell, the duo shot a combined 4-19 of the field.
“We want [Idowu and Motema] to be attackers,” said Northeastern head coach Bridgette Mitchell. “We play a four out, one in type of offense, and so we want everyone to be able to be on attack mode.”
Most of Motema’s team-leading 11 points came from the line ,where she went 5-6.
At the break Northeastern was down 51-19, and while there were some bright spots in the second half, the UConn lead continued to grow with much of the scoring coming from former No. 1 recruit, Azzi Fudd who finished with 27 despite going just 1-8 from beyond the arc.
In the fourth, with their deficit reaching 45, Mitchell put Ergodan back into the game to give her team one last glimpse of hope. In the end, Erdogan couldn’t save her squad, as both her and Motema fouled out of the game and the scoring burden was left to the guards coming off the bench. Luckily for Northeastern, they did have a hot hand warming on the sideline. Sophomore guard Camille Clement scored eight points over the final 10 minutes of play for Northeastern, including two 3-pointers.
Despite the final score, Mitchell found positives from the game, citing her team’s execution of its defensive gameplan, the physicality they brought against a much larger opponent, and the patient they were able to show on offense in the second half.
The next game for Northeastern will be on Wednesday, their home opener where they will take on Boston College at 11 a.m. Peyton Doyle and Mike Puzzanghera will be on the call for WRBB Sports.