Adamec: Before the Big East final, Huskies appear to be in good spirits.

. UNCASVILLE — The junior point guard put her head down and made her way to the basket as the UConn women’s basketball team led by 30 points with just over seven minutes left on Sunday.

Against Marquette guard Mackenzie Hare, the 2023 Nancy Lieberman Award finalist was able to get where she wanted to go without issue. In any case, prior to going up for the layup, she smacked Bunny and sent the rookie reeling beyond the field of play — only just in case or for communicating something specific for the following year. Official Imprint Resch settled on the simple foul decision against Mühl, who gazed at Bunny, grinned, put her hands to her face, applauded once, and ran back to play protection. The bench players chuckled.

Geno Auriemma, the coach at UConn, said, shaking his head, “She didn’t have to have an offensive foul on that kid today underneath the basket.” She scored a layup. But that was a classic move from Shea Ralph. I could just shoot a layup if I drove here. But what do you know? If I don’t hit this kid, it won’t be as fun.’ That’s just the way some people are. What should I say?

At Mohegan Sun Arena, the Huskies defeated Marquette 81-52 in front of 7,712 fans for the second day in a row during the Big East tournament.

But the work isn’t done yet, and it will be hard to finish it.

UConn, ranked first, will face No. 2 Tonight at Mohegan Sun Arena, Villanova is aiming to win the conference tournament for the tenth time in a row, a record. However, the Huskies go into the game feeling better than they have in months.

With guard Azzi Fudd’s return to action Saturday against Georgetown and a scare with guard Caroline Ducharme on Sunday, they had ten players available. That only happened once during the regular season, on Nov. 14 against Texas, when Dorka Juhász broke her left thumb, putting her out for a month.

Mühl stated, “It feels amazing knowing that you have people coming off the bench and just giving you a little break.” That seems like a huge relief to me. Additionally, I believe that players who have been on the field for the majority of the season possess tremendous self-assurance, endurance, and conditioning.

We have so much energy as a result. Today, it seems like that showed. We can now commit fully.  Aggressive behavior is possible.

UConn wants to play that way. Since Auriemma arrived in Storrs in 1985, the motto, “play hard, play smart, and have fun,” has been a part of the program.

Mühl had 11 points and 10 assists, Juhász had 14 points and 11 rebounds, Aaliyah Edwards had 20 points and 12 rebounds, and fellow starters Lou Lopez Sénéchal had 14 points and Aubrey Griffin had 11. In addition, Griffin contributed four steals, seven rebounds, and four assists.

Auriemma had his starting five on the bench for the first time this season when Juhász came out for good with 2:17 to go. Inês Bettencourt, a freshman, hit a 3-pointer on the Huskies’ next possession, perfectly timing the celebration.

Mühl stated, “Today’s game pretty much felt like the non-conference games during the beginning of the season.” When March rolls around, when the games really, really matter, we definitely have a different advantage over them.

On Feb. 8, Marquette defeated UConn for the first time, snapping the Huskies’ remarkable 1,083-game winning streak.

Coach Megan Duffy said that playing UConn in March is different than any other time after her team beat St. John’s on Saturday. Nobody knows it better than she does. When she was a player in her junior year at Notre Dame, the Irish beat the Huskies by six points in January but lost by 13 to UConn in the Big East quarterfinals. In February 2012, while she was an assistant coach at St. John’s, a one-point victory by the Red Storm ended the Huskies’ 99-game home winning streak. UConn defeated St. John’s 31-0 in the Big East semifinals approximately two weeks later.

After that came Sunday.

Edwards stated, “It just comes down to not giving up.” We knew we were in charge, and they could continue their run.

However, the Huskies still need to win one more game to achieve their second goal of the year. In Saturday’s quarterfinals, Villanova defeated DePaul by two points and Creighton by one, respectively. The nation’s leading scorer and two-time Big East Player of the Year Maddy Siegrist scored 37 points tormenting the Bluejays.

The Wildcats are dangerous because of Siegrist and their ability to shoot 3-pointers. During the regular season, the teams played two tough games, with the Huskies winning by five points in the fourth quarter at Hartford and by nine points at Villanova.

However, those games took place in January and February. March is here.

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