By STEVE MEGARGEE
AP Sports Writer
MILWAUKEE (AP) — UConn lost back-to-back games for the first time in three decades after the fourth-ranked Huskies were beaten 59-52 by Marquette on Wednesday night.
The Huskies, who were playing three nights after an 81-77 home loss to No. 1 South Carolina, lost consecutive games for the first time since March 1993.
“We knew we were the big-time underdogs,” Marquette coach Megan Duffy said. “We watched Connecticut lose on Sunday and we knew a buzz saw was coming in. We just kind of stayed together and fed off our home crowd and just continued to make big plays. I thought our defense was tremendous today.”
Chloe Marotta had 19 points and Jordan King added 18 for Marquette (16-8, 9-6 Big East), which beat UConn (21-4, 13-1) for the first time in 17 meetings.
Marquette had led UConn early in the fourth quarter at home last season before fading down the stretch and losing 72-58.
This time, the Golden Eagles closed the deal, holding the Huskies to their lowest point total of the season.
“They are the top program in women’s basketball history, so we’re honored to be a piece of this,” Duffy said. “Our kids fought. I’m so proud of them. UConn will have a phenomenal rest of the season, I know it. But for our program, it’s huge. In front of our home crowd, I couldn’t be more thrilled.”
Dorka Juhasz led UConn with 15 points. Aubrey Griffin and Lou Lopez Senechal added 12 points each.
After missing eight of its first nine shots, Marquette went on a 21-2 spurt over an eight-minute stretch to turn an 8-2 deficit into a 23-10 advantage. The Golden Eagles never trailed again, though UConn briefly tied the game in the third quarter.
King started the momentum shift by scoring 10 straight points on her own, including a pair of 3-pointers. UConn trailed 25-15 midway through the second quarter and had 10 turnovers by that point to Marquette’s one.
UConn got back into the game by going on a 12-2 run of its own. Marquette maintained a 27-22 halftime edge despite making just one basket – a King driving layup – over the final 8 minutes, 18 seconds of the second quarter.
The Huskies trailed by as many as seven in the third quarter before tying the game at 31 on an Aaliyah Edwards basket with 6:10 left in the period. Marquette regained the lead 21 seconds later on Marotta’s 3-pointer and carried a 39-38 edge into the final quarter.
Marquette gradually built the lead in the final period and got ahead 51-44 on a Marotta jumper with 1:35 left. UConn made its last charge by cutting the margin to 51-47 on a Dorka Juhasz 3-pointer with 1:20 remaining.
After Marquette initially struggled to get the ball inbounds and had to call a timeout, the Golden Eagles beat the press and got the ball to Emily La Chapell for a layup with 1:15 remaining.
That started a 6-0 run that put the game out of reach.
UConn: Even after the Huskies dug themselves such a deep hole in the first half, UConn had reason to believe it could put this game away by dominating the fourth quarter, just as it had in last season’s game at Marquette. It didn’t happen. Azzi Fudd, who scored 24 points and sparked that fourth-quarter surge in last season’s game at Marquette, hasn’t played since injuring her right knee Jan. 15 against Georgetown.
Marquette: The Golden Eagles are on the NCAA Tournament bubble, so this game was huge for their postseason hopes. Marquette now must make sure it doesn’t have any letdowns the rest of the season.
UConn moved up a spot in the poll after losing a close game to South Carolina. The Huskies figure to fall out of the top five now.
The Huskies had been 74-0 after losing games since they lost the consecutive games in 1993 to Providence in the Big East Tournament semifinals and Louisville in the NCAA Mideast Regional first-round game.
UConn: At Georgetown on Saturday.
Marquette: At Providence on Feb. 15.
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