South Orange, NJ–Freshman Aubrey Griffin had the best game of her career, setting career-highs with 25 points and 12 rebounds helped the Huskies beat Seton Hall 92-78 at Walsh Gym despite trailing by nine points in the first quarter.
”I wanted to see where my mom and my dad went to school. I was coming into the same gym that he played in. It was pretty cool to be here.” Griffin said after the game.
Griffin, whose father, Adrian, was a standout player for Seton Hall in the 1990s was in attendance looking like a proud parent in the crowd.
Crystal Dangerfield missed her second straight game back spasm, giving Molly Bent the start once again. Bent played well for the Huskies, dropping a career-best 10 points to go with four rebounds, three assists, and just one turnover.
The Huskies are coming off a 75-37 win over Dayton. With senior Crystal Dangerfield out, junior Megan Walker stepped up by creating her shots and dishing off the ball when she was in the lane.
UConn knew to beat the Pirates, they would have to have decent games from Molly Bent, Kayla Irwin, and Nelson Ododa had to stay out of foul trouble.
The Huskies trailed 28-19 after a fast-paced first quarter. They changed their defense to box and one which wore the Pirates down. Seton Hall (5-4) turned the ball over which led to easy transition baskets for UConn.
It was the turnovers and stagnant offense by the Huskies that opened the door for a 9-0 Seton Hall run that put the Pirates on top 12-11. After exchanging baskets for a few possessions, the Pirates shot the lights out from downtown, hitting four triples to go up nine points after the first quarter ended.
With Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Christyn Williams both on the bench with foul trouble, UConn went to the bench and got a big spark from Griffin. She forced a steal on the baseline, took the ball ninety-four feet and got fouled.
Walker scored 10 points in the second quarter as the Huskies took a 47-43 lead at the break. She added five points early in the third period to help the Huskies make it 61-51.
”I look at tonight and say to her that this is what could be every night. I said that this is how you score a lot of points, getting offensive rebounds. She has played like an All-American since the season started.”Auriemma said.
A Griffin basket helped the Huskies re-take the advantage but Seton Hall took it right back with a trey six seconds later. UConn finally took the lead for good with 4:15 left in the second quarter thanks to a three from Bent. At the half, the Huskies went into the locker room with a four-point lead.
UConn went to work on the glass, out-rebounding the Pirates 45-24 and grabbing 27 offensive rebounds all on hustle plays (60 percent).
Megan Walker continued to play at an All-American level, scoring 29 points on 10-21 shooting. That marked a season-high for the forward and the second-highest scoring output of her career.
After sitting most of the second half against Dayton with an ankle injury, Anna Makurat returned to action with a strong performance. Makurat was relentless on the boards with a career-high 11 rebounds paired with eight points.
Mya Jackson had 21 and Desiree Elmore 16 for the Pirates. Shadeen Samuels added 14.
UConn will have a few days off before returning to action on Sunday against Notre Dame. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. at Gampel Pavilion.
Since 1994, UConn has a 286-25 record against nonconference opponents. The Huskies will face the Pirates once again next season when UConn returns to the Big East.