KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Lou Lopez Senechal scored 26 points and Aaliyah Edwards added 25 to lead No. 5 Connecticut to a 84-67 victory over Tennessee in a matchup of iconic women’s basketball programs on Thursday night.
Aubrey Griffen and Dorka Juhasz, each scored 13 points for the Huskies (19-2), who led by as many as 16 points at the end of the first quarter and extended their winning streak to 12 games. Nika Muhl had 14 assists.
“I don’t know if we could recreate the rivalry we’ve had (in the past),” Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said. “This is as good a nonconference game you can play anywhere.”
Jordan Horston scored 27 points for the Lady Volunteers (16-7), who closed within two points early in the third period but couldn’t complete the comeback.
“It was tough to slow (UConn) down,” Tennessee coach Kellie Harper said. “They were making every open shot and some tough ones.”
Rickea Jackson scored 13 points and Jillian Hollingshead added 11 as Tennessee lost for the first time in 10 games.
“(Horston) is a terrific player,” said Auriemma. “We recruited her down to the end and she chose Tennessee. Those players tend to have big games against us.”
“I just wanted to get it done, whatever it takes,” Horston said. “Their post players were really physical.”
All of Tennessee’s losses have come against ranked teams.
UConn, which couldn’t miss in the first quarter, and couldn’t buy a basket in the second, carried a 40-36 lead into halftime.
“In the second quarter, (Tennessee) punched us and we didn’t punch back,” said Lopez Senechal. “We had to be more aggressive.”
Edwards had 10 points and Lopez Senechal had nine in the first 10 minutes, when the Huskies shot 71% and led 33-17. Tennessee scored the last eight points of the second quarter — four by Horston, who had 11 at the break — to make it interesting.
“It’s a case of kids getting tired of getting their butts beat,” said Auriemma. “That takes over. We have to change our approach. The adrenaline starts flowing.”
UConn has been ranked in The Associated Press Top 25 poll for 557 straight weeks. That won’t change. … On the other hand, Tennessee started the season No. 5, but has struggled with the toughest schedule in the country. … When the Lady Vols take on LSU on Monday and South Carolina on Feb. 23, they will have played all of the top six teams in this week’s poll.
Connecticut: If the Huskies were healthy, they would be a powerhouse. However, their two top players, Paige Bueckers and Azzi Fudd, and top freshman Ice Brady, are out with injuries. … Jana El Alfy, a 6-foot-4 2023 recruit from Cairo, Egypt, has enrolled early. She’s with the team, but not expected to play this season.
Tennessee: This 26th meeting (UConn leads 17-9) between the Vols and Huskies is the climax to the “We Back Pat” week that brings attention to Alzheimer’s disease, which claimed the life of iconic Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt. … Tennessee coach Kellie Harper said playing UConn was important to Summitt, who she played for, so she hopes the series will continue. … Tennessee has had to deal with the loss of 6-6 Tamari Key, who was diagnosed with blood clots nine games into her senior year.
Connecticut: Host a Big East meeting with No. 21 Villanova on Sunday.
Tennessee: Travel to No. 4 LSU on Monday night.
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25