Hartford, Conn. — It’s been rare over the past decade that Geno Auriemma and his UConn Huskies have found themselves down by double digits in the final 10 minutes of a game. Let alone facing that deficit at home.
Yet that’s where the top-ranked Huskies were Sunday against No. 3 Notre Dame. They trailed by 11 in the fourth in front of a stunned sellout crowd.
To make matters worse for the Huskies, they were missing two preseason All-Americans. Gabby Williams was out for the second half with a migraine and Katie Lou Samuelson reinjured her foot in the fourth quarter.
They still had Azura Stevens and she helped the Huskies rally.
Stevens, who sat out last year after transferring from Duke, scored 10 of her 17 points in the fourth quarter, to help UConn top the Irish, 80-71, in the Jimmy V Classic.
“They made all the plays they needed to make to win the game,” Auriemma said. “So things that happen, like that fourth quarter, remind our team how good we can be. … We can be that good so it was good for us to learn that today, it was really good.”
The Huskies (7-0) trailed 65-54 early in the fourth quarter before scoring 21 of the next 26 points that energized the 15,558 fans.
Stevens’ layup gave the Huskies a 69-68 lead — their first since the second quarter. Kia Nurse had seven points during the burst, including her 13th consecutive 3-pointer over the past three games.
Her layup with 3:51 left gave UConn a 71-70 advantage after Arike Ogunbowale had briefly given the Irish (7-1) a 70-69 lead. Nurse then had another layup off a tip from Stevens and the Irish couldn’t recover.
(At) Michigan State 65, Western Michigan 62: Branndais Agee scored 13, Taya Reimer 11 and Jenna Allen 10 for Michigan State (5-2). Marley Hill scored 16 and Jasmyn Walker 11 for Western (4-5).
Central Michigan 103, (at) Oakland 85: Five Chippewas (6-1) scored in double figures, led by Tinara Moore with 28 and 11 rebounds, Presley Hudson with 27 and Micaela Kelly with 20. Cierra Bond scored 18 for Oakland (3-4), and Taylor Gleason and Taylor Jones each scored 14.
(At) Minnesota 80, Eastern Michigan 56: Kenisha Bell scored 18 and Bryanna Fernstrom 17 for Minnesota (8-1). Danielle Minott scored 15 and Courtnie Lewis and Emoni Jackson 13 each for Eastern (2-5).
Big Ten men
(At) No. 12 Minnesota 89, Rutgers 67: Nate Mason scored a season-high 26 and Jordan Murphy had his ninth straight double-double to start the season in the Big Ten opener for both teams. Murphy finished with 18 points and 16 rebounds. Reggie Lynch added 16 points, nine rebounds and five blocks for the Gophers (8-1). Freshman forward Mamadou Doucoure had 13 points and nine rebounds for Rutgers (6-2).
(At) Purdue 74, Northwestern 69: Isaac Haas scored 26 points, including the go-ahead basket with under a minute to play. There were 12 ties and 13 leads changes, Hass providing the last one as the Boilermakers (7-2, 2-0) scored the last seven. Northwestern is 5-4, 1-1.
Maryland 92, (at) Illinois 91, OT: Anthony Cowan scored 27 points, including the game-winning free throw, to lift Maryland past Illinois in overtime. Justin Jackson scored 20 and Kevin Huerter added 17 for Maryland (7-3, 1-1 in Big Ten). Leron Black led Illinois (6-3, 1-1), while Mark Alstork scored 17 and Aaron Jordan added 15. Illinois mounted a furious comeback in the second half, taking its first lead of the game 74-73 with 1:51 left in regulation. Bruno Fernando tipped in a shot at the buzzer to send the game into overtime with the score tied at 75.
Top 25 men
(At) No. 5 Notre Dame 71, St. Francis (Brooklyn) 53: Martinas Geben had 14 points and 10 rebounds to help Notre Dame (7-1) beat St. Francis despite ejections to All-American Bonzie Colson and coach Mike Brey with 6:02 left. Colson, who had 13 points and nine rebounds, was called for a flagrant foul when he swung his elbows and floored the Terriers’ Glenn Sanabria. As Colson left the court following his ejection, Brey had to be restrained twice by his coaching staff, the second time leading to his ejection.
(At) No. 13 North Carolina 97, Tulane 73: Luke Maye had 22 points and 10 rebounds while Kenny Williams and Joel Berry II added 13 points apiece to help the Tar Heels (8-1) win their third straight. The defending national champions shot a season-best 65.5 percent and hit nearly 68 percent during their best-shooting half of the season, helping them put this one away by halftime. Melvin Frazier scored 27 points for Tulane (6-2).
Seton Hall 79, (at) No. 17 Louisville 77: Desi Rodriguez had a season-high 29 points, including an off-balance bank shot with 8 seconds remaining, to rally Seton Hall to an upset. After Deng Adel’s leaner tied it at 77, the Pirates (7-1) ran the clock down before Rodriguez got the ball and fired a hard shot off the glass for the lead in a tense, back-and-forth game between former Big East Conference rivals. Adel had 20 points and Quentin Snider 15 for Louisville (4-2).
UCF 65, (at) No. 24 Alabama 62: A.J. Davis made the go-ahead free throw with 25 seconds remaining, then Terrell Allen stole the ball and fired it to Dayon Griffin for an easy layup that sealed Central Florida’s upset victory. Allen finished with 16 points and eight assists, Djordjije Mumin had 11 points, and Griffin added 10 points and six rebounds for the Knights (5-3). Donta Hall had 20 points and four blocks for Alabama (6-2).