PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Dorka Juhasz had 19 points and 17 rebounds and Nika Muhl added 14 points as No. 5 UConn held off Providence 64-54 on Wednesday night.
Lou Lopez Senechal and Aubrey Griffin each finished with 13 points as the Huskies registered their 14th straight win. The quest for the 15th straight win will feature a rematch of last year’s National Championship as UConn squares off against top-ranked South Carolina on Sunday.
The Huskies (21-2, 13-0 Big East) shot 51% and held the Friars to 36%. UConn committed 20 turnovers, many of which helped Providence (13-11, 4-9) stay in the picture. Olivia Olsen led Providence with 13 points while Janai Crooms and Nariah Scott each had 11 points.
The Huskies shot 69 percent in the first quarter in building a 20-14 lead that likely would have been greater had UConn not turned the ball over six times. There were more turnover issues in the second quarter, yet UConn carried a 37-26 lead into halftime with Juhasz and Muhl each netting 11 points.
UConn appeared on the verge of seizing control after a layup from Lopez Senechal made it 45-30, but the underdog Friars made it interesting. Five straight points from Scott, a reserve guard, capped off a 9-0 run that forced UConn to call timeout with 1:23 left in the third quarter after Providence pulled to within six (45-39).
Lopez Senechal gave UConn a 58-41 lead, part of a 10-2 run that opened the fourth quarter. Once again, Providence closed to within single digits with Scott’s third 3 making it 60-52 with 3:13 remaining. The Huskies responded by scoring on consecutive possessions as Juhasz capped off her strong performance with a score inside that pushed the lead back to double figures.
UConn: Wednesday marked the fifth time in 12 days that UConn was on the court. Three of those contests have come with the Huskies serving as the visiting team. The busy stretch comes at a time when head coach Geno Auriemma only has eight healthy players. The walking wounded included two sophomore guards as Caroline Ducharme (concussion) and Azzi Fudd (right knee). Ducharme missed her 10th straight game Wednesday while Fudd sat out for the 14th time this season, spanning two stints. Between Ducharme and Fudd, the Huskies are seeking to fill 27 combined points each time they hit the court.
Providence: The Friars fell to UConn for the 33rd consecutive time. The last time Providence got the better of the Huskies was the semifinals of the 1993 Big East Tournament. … Providence is now 1-3 against nationally ranked opponents this season.
UConn: Returns home for a Sunday showdown against top-ranked South Carolina. It will be the sixth game of the season against a Top 25 team.
Providence: Travel to Seton Hall on Saturday.