XL CENTER–The Connecticut Huskies found out the hard way that team they played on January 11th at the UBS Arena wasn’t the same team. They don the big SJ on their cape and they zapped the Huskies with their super power.
Kadaja Bailey and Danielle Patterson both poured in 20 points and St. John’s beat No. 4 ranked UConn 69-64 in Hartford on Tuesday night at the XL Center. This was their first loss to St. John’s since February 2012. The Johnnies also shot 50% (9 of 18) from 3-point range.
Jayla Everett added 17 points for St. John’s (20-7, 11-7 Big East), which added a huge win to its NCAA Tournament resume, beating UConn for the first time in 11 years.
UConn (24-5, 16-2 Big East) struggled on both ends of the court throughout the night, unable to get buckets or stops at the times it needed them most.
“St. John’s from the opening tip played like their life depends on every game for the rest of the season, that they need to win every single game out pretty much to make sure that they are in the NCAA Tournament,” UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said.
“It would have been a sin if they lost that game, to be honest with you, because they played so well and so hard and they played like they were the better team — and they were. Against a team that came out (like) we’re entitled to the Big East championship. So each team got what they deserved, 100%.”
Despite being down by as many as nine points in the second quarter, the Huskies came out on fire in the third with a 13-0 run to go up by eight. St. John’s responded with 16 of the next 21 points to re-take the lead and enter the fourth quarter with a three-point edge that it would never give up.
UConn shot a season-low 35.3% (22 of 62) from the field and 38.1% (8 of 21) from deep. It was their fifth straight game with fewer than 70 points, the first time that has happened for the program since 1992.
The Johnnies led the game for more than 28 minutes and took five point lead into the break (35-30).
UConn was outrebounded 42-37, allowing 14 offensive boards and 13 second-chance points which was the deciding factor of the game. St. John’s scored 18 points off a 12 turnovers. And the Red Storm had a 29-3 scoring advantage off the bench.
Lou Lopez Senechal scored 18 points while Dorka Juhasz and Aaliyah Edwards both chipped in 14 for UConn, which was looking to secure a share of its 29th regular-season conference title.
UConn trailed 21-15 after the first 10 minutes, giving up the most points it had in any first quarter this season, they missed their first five shots and turned the ball over three times before they put points on the board.
“Let’s not confuse the issue here, right,” Auriemma said. “St. John’s played about as well as I’ve seen a team play against us.”
A technical foul called on Edwards for elbowing a St. John’s player going for a rebound allowed the visiting team to tie the game. Following an and-one play, UConn trailed 51-48 at the end of the third quarter.
That deficit grew in the fourth. Auriemma called timeout with UConn down 60-54 with 4:34 left, in desperate plea to wake his team up.
Lopez Sénéchal hit Edwards with a nice pass for a layup to make it a four-point game with 3:19 left. After a pair of free throws from St. John’s on the other end of the court, Lopez Sénéchal made another gem, draining a 3-pointer to make it a 62-59 game with 2:45 left. Juhász drew a foul shortly after, but only made one of two shots at the charity stripe.
St. John’s extended its lead back to 64-60 off a jumper from Everett and UConn called another timeout with 50.6 seconds left.
“Overall I feel like our effort throughout the whole game was just bad,” Mühl said. “We didn’t match their enthusiasm and their effort and the way they played with their mindset at all.”
Juhász scored a quick bucket inside to cut the deficit to three points with 31.4 seconds left. But Bailey made two free throws to push it back to five.
Juhász hit a quick bucket inside and a missed free throw from Bailey made it a four-point game, but the Huskies couldn’t by a basket, despite having multiple chances on the crucial possession. The clock continued to run and the time ran out on the Huskies.
“Props to them,” Mühl said. “They came into the game and they wanted to win and they showed us that they wanted to win, and they did. But I feel like we really got outworked, out-hustled, everything. I mean it’s just disappointing. We could have changed it.”
The Huskies are back on the road to face DePaul this Saturday. The game is set for a 2 p.m. tip-off on Fox.
St. John’s will be home on Friday, Feb.24th for a 7:00 P.M. start time.