UConn ‘checked out’ in first back-to-back losses in 30 years

UConn coach Geno Auriemma blasted the officiating in Huskies' win over Tennessee. (Saul Young/News Sentinel/USA TODAY NETWORK)

UConn hadn’t lost back-to-back games in 30 years.

On Wednesday, Marquette broke that three-decade streak with a 59-52 upset win over the No. 4 Huskies. Chloe Marotta and Jordan King led the way with 19 and 18 points, respectively. Marotta also grabbed nine rebounds.

Connecticut was coming off a hard-fought 81-77 loss to No. 1 South Carolina on Sunday. As in that contest, UConn’s starters were forced to play extended minutes on Wednesday as the team continues to battle injuries.

The toll of those injuries is starting to catch up with the Huskies, coach Geno Auriemma said following the unprecedented defeat.

“With the week, two weeks we’ve had, I think mentally all of us — no one in particular — just checked out,” he told reporters. “And it was a major struggle because their team was so locked in to what they wanted to do. All the credit to them, because they were really good.”

UConn is missing Paige Bueckers (knee), Azzi Fudd (knee), Ice Brady (knee) and Caroline Ducharme (concussion). Fudd and Ducharme are expected to return at some point this season. Auriemma said Sunday that Ducharme could return as early as this week. UConn has another Big East matchup at Georgetown on Saturday.

Nearly every player has missed at least one game due to injury. Lou Lopez Sénéchal and Aaliyah Edwards are the only two UConn players who have been active for all 25 games. 

The Huskies have also dealt with other challenges and tragedies, like the death of Auriemma’s mother and a scare in which associate head coach Chris Dailey collapsed and was taken to the hospital in November. 

UConn has managed to stay afloat, recording a 21-4 record.

God bless them,” Auriemma said of his team. “I don’t know how they’ve done it this long to be honest with you.”

Meanwhile, the upset wasn’t the first for Marquette. The team has wins over Texas and Gonzaga this season, and also kept things close against UCLA and Villanova.

The Golden Eagles are fifth in the Big East at 9-6, following UConn — who remains in first place — Villanova, Creighton and St. John’s.