OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Christyn Williams scored 17 points apiece, and 10th-ranked UConn Huskies shook off a slow start to beat Creighton 76-56 on Wednesday night with an ill coach Geno Auriemma in the locker room the entire game.
The Huskies, who were not sharp in a win over Providence on Sunday, fell behind by double digits early against the Bluejays and didn’t take their first lead until the third quarter.
Caroline Ducharme’s jumper that bounced twice on the front of the rim before dropping through put them in front and the Huskies were in full control after that, building their lead to 22 points.
Creighton (15-6, 10-3 Big East) went without a field goal for more than six minutes spanning the halves while UConn went on an 18-0 run to erase a 32-20 deficit.
The Huskies (14-4, 9-0) went on to their fifth straight win as associate head coach Chris Dailey filled in for Auriemma, who began not feeling well at the arena and stayed in the locker room.
Auriemma’s illness was not related to COVID-19, according to SNY. He missed the first two rounds of NCAA Tournament last year after testing positive for COVID.
Nelson-Ododa added 13 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season, and she also had six assists. Ducharme scored 13 points and Evina Westbrook had 10.
Molly Mogensen had career highs with 15 points and three 3-pointers for the Bluejays.
The Huskies, who came into the game first in the Big East and sixth nationally in field-goal percentage, found no offensive rhythm until deep into the second quarter. They missed 11 of their first 13 shots, turned over the ball five times and were down double digits seven minutes in.
Williams, the Huskies’ leading scorer since star Paige Bueckers went out with a knee injury in December, picked up two fouls and went to the bench with a minute left in the first quarter. She didn’t return until the start of the third quarter, tying it 32-all on UConn’s first possession out of halftime.
Creighton, the Big East’s top 3-point shooting team, came out firing. Lauren Jensen made two straight from distance and the Bluejays made 6 of their first 13 while maintaining an 8- to 12-point lead until late in the second quarter.
The Huskies closed the half on a 10-0 run that cut it to 32-30 at the break. The 6-foot-5 Nelson-Ododa scored six of the points on easy inside baskets, Ducharme blocked a shot and Nika Muhl made a steal and went the length of the court for a layup to make it a two-point game.
The Huskies swept the two-game season series. They won 63-55 in Storrs, Connecticut, on January 9.
UConn: The Huskies are going through one of their busiest weeks of the season, with four games in eight days, and they’re doing it with a roster limited because of injuries. Dorka Juhasz missed her second straight game with a right foot injury.
Creighton: This started what could be a season-defining stretch for the Bluejays. They’re playing three of the four top teams in the Big East, with their next two on the road against DePaul and Marquette.
UConn: hosts Butler on Friday.
Creighton: visits DePaul on Friday.