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UConn’s Geno Auriemma: Big East prepares us for NCAA Tournament

UConn forward Aaliyah Edwards goes up against Villanova guard Brooke Mullin in the Huskies' win Sunday. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

For No. 5 UConn women’s basketball, its ongoing 13-game winning streak measures more than its success in the moment.

Rather, the Huskies (20-2) view their wins — particularly those coming in the thick of their Big East schedule, as with Sunday’s 63-58 victory against No. 19 Villanova — as proof of concept as the NCAA Tournament approaches.

“We have a lot of really good teams that are really a pain in the ass to play. Really, really difficult,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said Sunday of the Big East. “The coaches in this league are fantastic and that’s why we do so well in the NCAA Tournament.”

UConn and Villanova (18-4) are the only two Big East teams ranked in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll. But St. John’s (17-3) and Creighton (14-6) have proved dangerous, and DePaul (11-10) has last year’s NCAA Freshman of the Year in Aneesah Morrow.

Division I scoring leader Maddy Siegrist and the Wildcats gave the Huskies almost all they could handle Sunday, yet UConn still managed to pull off the win.

UConn has managed to succeed even in the face of injuries and absences, helped by the steadying forces of Aaliyah Edwards and Lou Lopez Sénéchal, the only players who have appeared in every game for the team this season.

“I’m proud that we have to play the way we have to play every night out against the teams in our league because they challenge us every night,” Auriemma said. “Mentally and physically, they challenge us every night. … Our league really taxes you and I love it. Love it. It gets us ready for the NCAA Tournament.”