UConn freshman guard Azzi Fudd, the No. 1 recruit in women's basketball this season, returned to action Wednesday for the first time since Nov. 14 because of a foot injury. And she was a big boost to the No. 10 Huskies, who beat DePaul 80-78 and kept their Division I-record 143-game regular-season conference winning streak going.
Fudd had 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field, along with one rebound, one assist and three steals in 22 minutes.
"There's no better feeling than, one, getting to play again, but then getting to play in a tough game," Fudd said. "It was just a lot of fun. We went in the locker room at halftime, and we were down [40-31] and we were talking about it.
"The big thing was just stay together, stay level and that's what we did. We came out third quarter and played good defense, and we took it home."
It took a big shot from another UConn freshman, Caroline Ducharme, to seal the victory. She made the winning layup with 1.6 seconds left and finished with team-high 19 points. Senior Christyn Williams, who hadn't played since Jan. 15 because of COVID-19, returned and had 17 points for the Huskies (12-4).
DePaul's Aneesah Morrow, who was No. 1 on ESPN's recent ranking of freshmen in women's basketball, had 30 points and 14 rebounds in the loss. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, she is the fourth player in the last 20 seasons to get at least 30 points and 10 rebounds against UConn. The other three were all WNBA No. 1 picks: Tennessee's Candace Parker did it in 2007, Louisville's Angel McCoughtry in 2008 and Notre Dame's Jackie Young in 2018.
Morrow now has three consecutive games with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds. No player had done that since Middle Tennessee's Alysha Clark, in 2010; Clark is now with the Washington Mystics.
It was also Morrow's 15th double-double this season, tying her with Missouri junior Aijha Blackwell for the most in Division I. Morrow's 13 consecutive double-doubles is the longest active streak in Division I.
But it wasn't quite enough to give DePaul coach Doug Bruno his first victory over UConn; he is now 0-20 against the Huskies. UConn's last regular-season loss to a conference foe was to Notre Dame in the former Big East in 2013. The Huskies have won 167 consecutive games against conference foes counting league tournament games; their last loss in a league tournament was also to Notre Dame in 2013.
UConn never lost a league game in their seven years in the American Athletic Conference, either in the regular season or the conference tournament. They also haven't lost a league game since their return to the current Big East last season.
And Fudd was a big reason why the streak stayed intact. Coach Geno Auriemma had indicated on Tuesday that Fudd might see some playing time Wednesday, but he was very pleased with just how much she contributed.
"Not having played in seven weeks or something, in Azzi's first workout the other day, she made like 25 straight shots," Auriemma said. "I betcha only one of them touched the rim. When you add somebody like that to the lineup, that makes a lot of people feel a lot more confident. Especially me."