No. 10 Texas defeated No. 11 UConn 80-68 on Sunday afternoon at the Moody Center. This marked the Longhorns' first win against the Huskies in program history, and Rori Harmon had her hands all over it.
This is the earliest UConn has had three losses since the 1980-81 season, when the Huskies started 0-3 after a loss to Dartmouth on Dec. 2.
UConn was going to be Texas' toughest test of the season so far, and Vic Schaefer's team certainly delivered. The Longhorns got off to a 15-3 start in the first quarter, and they finished the second with a 10-2 run.
Texas had a 41-27 lead at halftime, with Harmon scoring or assisting on 30 of her team's 41 points. The Huskies were shooting 55% from the field over the first two quarters, but the Texas defense only allowed 22 field goal attempts, 15 less than the Longhorns' total. UConn star Paige Bueckers, who Harmon was tasked with defending, only had five shot attempts in those two quarters.
UConn kept fighting and went on a 7-0 run late in the third quarter. Texas wasn't letting up, but the Huskies had another good push in the fourth quarter, cutting the deficit to 67-58 with six minutes remaining. The last few minutes were a battle, but UConn wasn't able to complete the comeback.
Texas finished the game with four players in double figures, led by Harmon's double-double of 27 points and 13 assists. Freshman forward Madison Booker reached a career-high 20 points. The Longhorns had 68 field goal attempts and held UConn to 44. Aaliyah Edwards led UConn's offense with 22 points while Bueckers added 13 points.
"They're a team that has very, very few, if any, weaknesses that I can see," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said of Texas.
Next up, UConn (4-3) will hope to right the ship against Ball State on Wednesday. Texas (9-0) will host Long Beach State that same day.
Here are some takeaways from Texas' win over UConn:
Rori Harmon is one of the nation's top players
Harmon won her battle against Bueckers, never allowing the 2021 Naismith Player of the Year to truly find her rhythm. Sure, Bueckers is still not quite the same player she was before her ACL injury, but Harmon held her to just four field goals.
"Rori not only ran our team, she guarded the best two-guard in the country," Schaefer said.
Taylor Jones has been the leading scorer and rebounder for Texas, but she was limited because of foul trouble. That wasn't a problem because Harmon's 27 points and 13 assists made the entire Texas offense a threat for the Huskies.
Auriemma said Bueckers played "bad" on Sunday, but he had a lot of praise for Harmon.
"Offensively, I think [Harmon] just takes the ball and goes to her spot. I was really impressed with the control she has of herself and the game," Auriemma said. "There was rarely a time when she's trying to make a play that isn't the right play at that time. And she takes shots that she knows she can make."
Texas capitalized on turnovers
The Huskies were not having a bad shooting night. In fact, their 59.1% field goal percentage marks the highest in a loss in at least the last 25 seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
However, the Huskies had almost as many turnovers as successful field goals Sunday, and taking care of the ball against a smothering Texas defense was a huge issue. The Longhorns were able to get 36 points off UConn's 21 turnovers. Meanwhile, the Huskies only scored eight points off Texas' nine turnovers.
Texas deserves a lot of credit because ball security wasn't a problem for the Huskies up to this point. UConn entered Sunday averaging 12.7 turnovers per game, one of the 30 lowest marks in the country.
Rebounding was also a struggle for UConn
The Longhorns took 22 more shots than UConn, and part of it is because the Huskies allowed 16 offensive rebounds. Meanwhile, UConn only had five offensive boards. By the end of the day, Texas had a 15-2 advantage in second-chance points.
According to The Athletic, opponents are averaging 37 rebounds per game against UConn, which is the most since at least the 2009-10 season.
After the game, Auriemma said it's clear senior forward Aaliyah Edwards needs help in the frontcourt.
"I thought Aaliyah was brilliant," Auriemma said. "I thought she just was exhausted out there and she wasn't getting any help from any of our other bigs."