Women’s basketball: Aneesah Morrow’s big night is not enough to upset No. 10 UConn


Ben Zebrowski

Sonya Morris looks to drive to the paint versus UConn Wednesday night at Wintrust Arena.

DePaul has had its chances to beat UConn in the past, but the Huskies have always found a way to pull out a victory. 

On Wednesday, with UConn traveling to Chicago to face DePaul on short notice after the Big East rescheduled the Dec. 31 postponement, the Blue Demons once again found themselves with an opportunity to knock off the Huskies. 

DePaul held a 75-74 lead with 1:54 to play in the game, but, like some of the other close games these two programs have played, UConn found a way to pull out the victory — 80-78 — after Caroline Ducharme hit a layup with one second left.

“I thought we let our guard down with the collection of threes that took place there in the second half and then down the stretch defensively,” head coach Doug Bruno said. 

Freshman forward Aneesah Morrow, who finished with 30 points and 14 rebounds, could not get a 3-pointer to go from half-court as time expired. 

UConn has now won 20 consecutive games versus DePaul. The Blue Demons’ only win over the Huskies came back in 1983, two years before head coach Geno Auriemma took over UConn’s program. 

A majority of those 20 wins for UConn have come via a blowout, but a couple have gone down to the final couple of plays in the fourth quarter. On Wednesday, it was the latter. 

“I love our players. I love what we did tonight. I love how we came back,” Bruno said. “But, still there’s a score and it’s an 80-78 game.”

UConn managed to grab a 54-53 lead after the third quarter. Morrow left the game briefly in the second half with a right knee injury, but eventually returned to start the fourth quarter.

Just knowing that my teammates would need me, I had to push through,” Morrow said. “And then I’ll just have to be in recovery later.”

She quickly made her impact felt by drawing a foul and knocking down both free throws to give the Blue Demons a one-point lead. But the Huskies responded with an 8-0 run to go up seven. 

Behind its most experienced players — Lexi Held and Sonya Morris — DePaul managed to pull ahead 67-64 midway through the quarter. 

Ducharme scored eight consecutive points that put UConn up 74-73 with two minutes left in the game. Morris, however, responded with a jump-shot to retake the lead for the Blue Demons. 

Christyn Williams scored on back-to-back layups that put her team up three with a minute to play. Morrow, who finished with her nation-leading 16th double-double, hit three straight free throws to tie the game at 78.

But Ducharme, who took over in the fourth quarter, got to the rim and finished to seal a two-point victory for her team. 

Bruno after the game talked about his team’s inability to get stops late in the fourth quarter. 

“It’s technical,” Bruno said. “We didn’t let them go coast-to-coast for a layup until we were up four [in the fourth quarter] and then they went coast-to-coast for a layup. … You just can’t do that in crunch time.”

He was, however, proud of his team for the fight it showed after going down 11 in the first quarter. DePaul managed to turn a 22-11 deficit in the second quarter into a 40-31 halftime lead. 

The Blue Demons’ defensive effort helped cause that shift in the first half, with UConn only scoring 11 points in the second quarter. DePaul held onto the lead for most of the third quarter until Morrow left for a brief spell, which allowed UConn to go up heading into the fourth quarter. 

Four players — Morris, Morrow, Lexi Held and Darrione Rogers — scored 73 of DePaul’s 78 points Wednesday night. The Blue Demons really only used six players against UConn, with Kierra Collier the only player to see significant minutes off the bench.

Morris was behind Morrow in the scoring charts against the Huskies, finishing with 19 points on 8-of-23 points. Both Held and Rogers scored 12 points apiece. 

DePaul will get another crack at UConn on Feb. 11, but this time it will be in Connecticut. By then, the Huskies might have star guard Paige Bueckers back, who hasn’t played since early December due to a left leg injury. 

“We had them,” Morris said. “We really missed the opportunity. So I think we’re really just going to learn from it and grow from it individually and as a team.”