Jan. 18—As good as the UConn women's basketball team has been — particularly during its run of 13 consecutive NCAA Final Four appearances that includes six national championships — it's had its share of good luck when it's comes to injuries and illness.
The basketball gods seem determined to even the score this season.
Not only were the ninth-ranked Huskies without injured Paige Bueckers and Azzi Fudd against Oregon Monday, they had to play without senior guard Christyn Williams (COVID protocols).
They also caught Oregon with the Ducks the most healthy they have been all season. And that was their biggest issue.
Te-Hina Paopao had 22 points and Sedona Prince added 14 off of the bench as Oregon blew past the Huskies 72-59 at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, Oregon.
UConn lost its second game of the season to an unranked team after not doing it once since 2012 (Georgia Tech on Dec. 9).
It's also the second time this season the Huskies have lost a game by double figures that it once led by double figures (South Carolina on Nov. 22). That had not happened since the Final Four semifinal game against Notre Dame in 2001.
Caroline Ducharme had 22 points for the Huskies. Olivia Nelson-Ododa chipped in 17 and became the 50th UConn player to reach the 1,000-point plateau.
UConn (9-4) got off to a great start as five points by Ducharme and four from Nelson-Ododa gave it a 10-0 lead.
But Oregon (10-5), which was ranked No. 9 before losing three starters to injury in November, got right back in it with an 8-2 run.
Then down 14-8, the Ducks ripped off 18 unanswered points to take the lead for good.
Paopao had nine points in the spurt with Prince adding the last four for a 12-point advantage.
It was 39-24 at halftime and UConn got no closer than 10 the rest of the way. The Ducks took a 62-41 lead to the fourth quarter.
The game served as a homecoming game for Salem, Oregon native Westbrook, though the home-and-home series with the Ducks was scheduled before Westbrook transferred from Tennessee.
The three Huskies' seniors — Williams (Arkansas), Nelson-Ododa (Georgia Tech), and Westbrook (Oregon) — saw their team lose their homecoming games.
Monday's contest was the first January game in the Pacific time zone for UConn. It flew out to Eugene Sunday afternoon after beating Xavier at the XL Center Saturday and is scheduled to return to campus during the early morning hours Tuesday.
The Huskies are back at Gampel Pavilion Friday to take on Big East opponent Seton Hall.
For coverage of all sports in the JI's 18-town coverage area, plus updates on the UConn women's basketball team and head coach Geno Auriemma, follow Carl Adamec on Twitter: @CarlAdamec, Facebook: Carl Adamec, and Instagram: @CarlAdamec.