The Florida State Seminoles’ superstar freshman, Ta’Niya Latson, did not disappoint Sunday afternoon with 24 points, but picked up her third, fourth and fifth fouls in a matter of 41 seconds of her time on the court, forcing her to exit the game at 6:44 remaining and making it easier for the No. 9 UConn Huskies to reap a reward from their phenomenal first half in the form of an 85-77 victory at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Chris Dailey filled in for an under-the-weather Geno Auriemma and Aaliyah Edwards (26) and Lou Lopez Sénéchal (23) both went for 20-plus points to make up for the absence of Azzi Fudd, who is still out another one to four weeks with a knee injury. UConn (8-2, 1-0 Big East) was down five players in its previous game, an 85-78 loss to now-No. 15 Maryland, but kept its 29-season streak of not losing back-to-back games going with the help of Dorka Juhász (15 points, nine rebounds, four assists, two steals, five blocks) and Nika Mühl (six points, six boards, 12 assists), both of whom were unavailable against the Terrapins.
Edwards was 12-of-17 from the field and hauled in seven rebounds.
Remember when Aaliyah Edwards had career-high points last game?— UConn Women’s Basketball (@UConnWBB) December 18, 2022
Well she just set a new career high with 26 points! pic.twitter.com/ScBMa0A0PV
Latson picked up her third and fourth fouls in the first minute of the fourth quarter and had to exit the game. She came back with 6:58 remaining in the contest, but fouled out just 14 seconds later on an offensive foul. The Seminoles (11-2, 0-0 ACC) were down eight at the time; they remained competitive without their superstar, cutting it to 80-76 on an Erin Howard three with 3:19 remaining, but would get no closer than within four the rest of the way.
Howard showed off her skills from beyond the arc with four treys and finished with 18 points and eight rebounds.
UConn led by 18 at halftime, but a Latson three at the 4:58 mark of the third cut FSU’s deficit to 63-49. Latson followed that up by poking the ball away from UConn and to O’Mariah Gordon, who took it in for a fast break layup that cut it to 63-51. Later, a Mariana Valenzuela three with 2:50 left in the third cut it to 11 and a Gordon pull-up mid-range make in transition at the 2:26 mark of the frame cut it to nine. Latson then went on a 4-0 individual run to cut it to five with 1:18 to go before the fourth. UConn fought back to lead 71-62 after three.
UConn forced an FSU timeout one minute and 47 seconds into the contest by opening with a 6-0 run that featured four transition points and four points from Edwards. It became a 10-0 run after a nice Aubrey Griffin backdoor cut for a layup and Edwards’ third layup.
Latson stopped the bleeding by blocking a Lopez Sénéchal three and taking it all the way in for a layup. She scored the game’s next two points as well to cut it to 10-4, but left the game briefly after falling to the court and making her two free throws.
UConn got itself back into a groove with Latson out, cashing in on a Mühl three and an Edwards mid-range shot. Edwards then made an awesome, guard-like drive for two more and a 17-4 lead. Later, another 7-0 run, this one featuring a Lopez Sénéchal 4-point play and a Juhász three, put the Huskies up 26-9. They led 26-11 after one.
Latson continued to play with heart in the second quarter. She dove for a steal a few feet into FSU’s offensive half of the court, then passed it from the floor to Sara Bejedi for a layup that cut it to 30-13. Makayla Timpson followed with an inside bucket to cut it to 30-15 and then Latson took a steal in herself for a layup that made it 30-17 at the 7:51 mark of the second.
As the second frame progressed, UConn would maintain a comfortable lead with some 3-point shooting. Lopez Sénéchal knocked down a trey to make it 33-17. The Huskies seemed to be finding opening looks both inside and outside whenever they wanted and 21 seconds later Lopez Sénéchal missed what would have been another triple; the attempt went halfway down. Still, Caroline Ducharme scored next for the Huskies on a three and Lopez Sénéchal hit another herself to make it 41-23 UConn. Lopez Sénéchal finished 4-of-9 from downtown and 5-of-5 at the charity stripe.
LOU LOPEZ SÉNÉCHAL FOR THREE— UConn Women’s Basketball (@UConnWBB) December 18, 2022
we needed that one pic.twitter.com/dawz8yiOL0
The Huskies went on to gain their first 20-plus-point advantage after an interesting sequence. Juhász made a free throw and missed her second attempt, but a lane violation was called giving her another shot. She missed again and, again, a lane violation was called. Juhász made her fourth attempt to walk away with two points on the trip and then a technical foul was called on the Seminole bench, leading to two made free throws from Ducharme and a 49-28 lead for UConn.