Aubrey Griffin helps No. 6 UConn hold off Princeton
STORRS, Conn. (AP) — UConn lost another starter, then nearly lost a rare home game to an unranked team.
Aubrey Griffin scored 19 of her 29 points in the second half and tied Hall of Famer Rebecca Lobo's school record by going 11-for-11 from the field, leading the No. 6 Huskies to a 69-64 victory over Princeton on Thursday.
UConn held off a furious rally by Princeton after Huskies starting point guard Nika Muhl was knocked out of the game early in the third quarter following a collision in the paint.
UConn led by two points with 46 seconds remaining when Griffin drove to the basket for a contested layup. Madison St. Rose made it a two-point game again with a short jumper with 30 seconds left.
Ines Bettencourt hit one of two from the foul line for UConn to push the lead to three. Kaitlyn Chen missed a 3-pointer that would have tied the game, but Princeton regained possession with 5.2 seconds left. However, Princeton was unable to get the ball in cleanly for a final shot.
“It feels great,” Griffin said. “I think towards the end of the game, a lot of people stepped up and although we had a lot of players out, Ines stepped in at the end and made those free throws to put the game away.”
Lou Lopez Senechal had 18 points and Aaliyah Edwards added eight for UConn (6-1).
Grace Stone had 20 points and Chen added 18 for Princeton (5-3). It was a homecoming for Princeton coach Carla Berube, who played with Lobo on UConn’s first national championship team in 1995.
“It is like I left it,” Berube said. “It was electric, it was fun. I was worried when we got down 15 we would let it slip away and we didn’t because I have tough players who have a great will to win.”
UConn played without leading scorer Azzi Fudd. Fudd injured her knee in the loss at Notre Dame and is expected to be sidelined for three to six weeks. The Huskies are already without former national player of the year Paige Bueckers, forward Dorka Juhasz, and highly touted freshman Ice Brady. Juhasz could be returning to the court soon.
UConn coach Geno Auriemma said he wasn’t sure whether Juhasz, who is recovering from a broken thumb, would be able to return to action in Sunday’s game at Maryland. He said Muhl said she was fine after she struck Edwards’ knee and then the floor. Lopez Senechal is dealing with a foot injury as well.
The Huskies were 6 for 7 in the fourth quarter but committed 14 turnovers.
“Sometimes the only way you can prepare for something like that is to be in that situation and then see how you handle it,” Auriemma said.
“I don’t know that we handled it great, I don’t know if we are going to proud of what we see on film. I think when Nika went down, it was really a lot on some of the other players. At the end you have to make a couple of plays, you have to make a couple of shots. We managed to do what what needed to be done at that particular time to win a game and that still means a lot because we could have easily just feel bad about the situation you are in and lose the game.”
Princeton has three more non-conference games before beginning Ivy League play. The Tigers haven’t dropped a game in the regular season in the Ivy League during the 2019-20 and 2021-22 seasons. The Ivy League called off the 2020-21 season as a result of the global pandemic.
UConn extended its streak of not losing consecutive games since the final two games of the 1992-93 season.
Princeton: Hosts Delaware on Sunday.
UConn: At No. 20 Maryland on Sunday.