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UConn hitting Big East Tournament at Mohegan with ‘different energy level’

Geno Auriemma watches Christyn Williams #13 airborne for a save in the UConn Huskies win over the Georgetown Hoyas at the XL Center In Hartford, Connecticut February 19, 2022.
Joe Amon
Connecticut Public
UConn head coach Geno Auriemma watches Christyn Williams go airborne for a save in the Huskies' win over the Georgetown Hoyas at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut, Feb. 19, 2022.

Despite what’s been a humbling season for the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team, the Huskies enter their conference tournament as the No. 1 seed.

UConn will compete for an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament in the Big East Tournament this weekend at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville.

The Huskies, who started the season ranked No. 2 in the nation, hit a rough spot after a November loss to No. 1 South Carolina. Azzi Fudd, a member of the Big East conference All-Freshman team, went out with a foot injury on Dec. 1, and Paige Bueckers, the Associated Press Women’s Player of the Year for the 2020-21 season, fractured her tibia on Dec. 5. Then after losing three of seven games, the Huskies wereknocked out of the national Top 10 for the first time in 16 years.

The woes culminated with a Feb. 9 loss against Villanova University, UConn’s first loss against a conference rival since 2013.

But since the Villanova loss, the Huskies have won seven straight games.

“We caught Villanova on a really, really good night, there was a little bit of fatigue on our part, and since that game we’ve been different,” head coach Geno Auriemma said to reporters after Sunday’s regular-season finale. “We’ve had a different mentality, a different energy level. We’ve gotten more players back.”

UConn Huskies forward Amari Deberry #42 and guard Paige Bueckers #5 celebrate a straight up superman basket by UConn Huskies guard Christyn Williams #13 in the 2nd half between the UConn Huskies and the Georgetown Hoyas at the XL Center In Hartford, Connecticut February 20, 2022.
Joe Amon
Connecticut Public
UConn's Amari DeBerry (left) and Paige Bueckers (center) celebrate a straight-up superman basket by teammate Christyn Williams in the second half against the Georgetown Hoyas at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut, Feb. 20, 2022.

Bueckers came back in time for the Big East Tournament. She’s logged 13 minutes in back-to-back games.

The Huskies won last year’s Big East Tournament title game by 34 against Marquette University. It capped off a return to the Big East for the Huskies. Before last season, they competed in the American Athletic Conference. UConn won the AAC women's basketball tournament in each of the seven seasons it competed in the conference.

UConn opens the Big East Tournament in the quarterfinals Saturday at noon against the winner of Friday’s game between Georgetown University and Providence College.

Frankie Graziano is the host of 'The Wheelhouse,' focusing on how local and national politics impact the people of Connecticut.

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