No. 9 UConn wins without Auriemma, topping Florida St 85-77

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — Chris Dailey remained perfect filling in for Geno Auriemma as the head coach of UConn.

Dailey has won all 14 of the games that the Hall of Fame coach has missed in his 37-year career, including Sunday’s 85-77 victory over Florida State in the Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Showcase.

The school said a few minutes before tip that Auriemma wasn’t feeling well in the morning shootaround and would be out for the game.

Aaliyah Edwards scored a career-high 26 points and Lou Lopez Senechal added 23.

It’s been an emotional week for the 68-year-old Auriemma. His mom passed away on Dec. 8 and the funeral was earlier this week. Marsiella Auriemma was 91 years old.

“He’s OK. Flu-like symptoms and dehydration,” Dailey said. “It’s been a heck of a week both from a playing standpoint in the number of games we had to go through plus losing his mom. It’s a combination of a lot of things. he’s feeling better.”

While Auriemma was out, the Huskies welcomed back two of their injured players with the return of point guard Nika Muhl and forward Dorka Juhasz.

Muhl was in concussion protocol after suffering a head injury against Princeton on Dec. 8. Juhasz broke her thumb in the Huskies’ second game of the season against Texas and missed the next seven games.

The two made an immediate impact as the Huskies (8-2) jumped all over the Seminoles (11-2). UConn scored the first 10 points with Muhl having three assists. Juhasz was blocking shots on the other end as Florida State missed 16 of its first 17 shots and trailed 26-11 after the first quarter. The Huskies extended the advantage to 53-35 at the half.

Florida State, which was facing its first ranked opponent this season, wouldn’t go away. The Seminoles cut into the deficit in the third quarter and only trailed 67-62 with 1:06 left in the period. UConn hit four free throws to close out the quarter and go back up nine.

The Seminoles hung around thanks to Ta’Niya Latson, who came into the game fifth in the nation in scoring at 25.4 points a game. She had 24 points before fouling out with more than 6 minutes left.

Florida State was only down 80-76 with 3:19 left after Erin Howard’s 3-pointer, but that was the last points the Seminoles would score until she hit one of two free throws with 42.4 seconds remaining.

In between Howard’s points, Edwards hit a layup and Muhl a free throw to not allow the Seminoles to get any closer.

“This is an opportunity going into league play which we start Wednesday to understand the level of physicality and speed we’ll face in the ACC day in and out on a nightly basis,” Florida State coach Brooke Wyckoff said. “I thought we responded well, we hadn’t played the No. 9 team in the country yet. We did that today. We really feel like we learned from it and adjusted to it.”

Muhl finished with 12 assists and Juhasz had 15 points, nine rebounds and five blocks.

“It was amazing to have Dorka back. Having her on the floor opens up space for everybody,” Muhl said. “She can get in there. She had five blocks today. That’s amazing. Doing all that with her thumb not fully healed. Having her back is amazing and she’s a big reason we won today.”

STILL OUT

UConn is still without Azzi Fudd, who suffered a right knee injury Dec. 4 against Notre Dame. The school said she would be out three to six weeks.

TIP-INS

UConn is 34-1 at Mohegan Sun Arena with the lone loss coming against Louisville in 2021. … The Huskies improved to 10-0 against Florida State.

UP NEXT

Florida State: hosts Miami on Wednesday to open up ACC play.

UConn: hosts Seton Hall on Wednesday.

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AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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