Bueckers leads No. 3 UConn past Villanova

VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) - On his first tour of Villanova's new home courtyard, Geno Auriemma was taking a break when he saw a sign that read "Moments of Greatness". When he realized that many of these highlights were Wildcats victories over UConn, jumping into the game on Tuesday night didn't comfort him.
It turned out that Auriemma didn't have to worry.
Paige Bueckers and Olivia Nelson-Ododa had 19 points apiece to lead UConn to a 90-52 win over Villanova.
Christyn Williams added 18 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Huskies (5-0, 4-0 Big East), who are returning to the Big East this season after playing at the American Athletic Conference for the past seven seasons . The Huskies are the only undefeated team in the conference.
"Coming down here is always difficult to win," said Auriemma. "I never felt comfortable coming here that it would be easy."
Although he didn't think it was going to be a breeze, the UConn coach was thrilled to be back at Villanova. It's just a short drive from his hometown of Norristown, and he has so many great memories of games and people from the Philadelphia area. He spent part of Tuesday talking to Villanova men's coach Jay Wright and former women's coach Harry Perretta, a long-time rival who was retiring after last season.
"It was really, really, really great to be caught up," said Auriemma.
Getting some comfort food was also great, said Auriemma. On the way home, he brought some Philly cheesesteaks on the bus for a snack.
"I wish we would play here twice a month," he said.
Sarah Mortensen scored 17 points and Maddy Siegrist added 15 for Villanova (7-1, 2-1).
The Huskies, who last played against Villanova on January 29, 2013, had offered little resistance in their first four games and won an average of 40.8 points.
However, the Wildcats played against UConn for most of the first half before the Huskies parted ways late in the time. Mortensen's 3-pointer cut UConn's lead to 32-29, 3 1/2 minutes from time, but the Huskies scored the last 10 points before break and went into halftime at 42-29. The huskies had switched to zone defense by the end of the half, which hampered Villanova.
Bueckers, UConn's top scorer and reigning Big East newcomer of the week, scored the last seven points of halftime.
They got lighter buckets than we did, said Bückers. '' It was important to get such a strong run at the end of the second quarter. It was really big for us to go into halftime. ''
UConn pulled back early in the second half, and the lead was 54:43 when Williams finished a close-range drive after a neat spin set up the simple bucket.
And the huskies went on from there.
The loss was the first for Denise Dillon, who replaced Perretta this season. Dillon hit Perretta's school record for wins to start a season at seven; Perretta, who retired after last season, lost to Scranton in his eighth game of the 1978/79 season.
"It was a good first 15 minutes of basketball," said Dillon. '' Its a lot to do. We really have to feel it and see how far we have to go. So far at both ends of team basketball. ''
UConn: The Huskies are exactly where they are used to - and they were expected to be in the Great East upon their return. UConn won 19 regular season titles and 18 tournament championships in the Big East from 1982 to 2013. And the Huskies, preseason favorites to win the league, are well on the way to adding to that list.
Villanova: The Wildcats will try to recover and continue the good feeling from Dillon's strong start with four planned Big East games against Georgetown, Seton Hall, Marquette and Providence before a rematch at UConn on January 16.
Villanova sophomore guard Kenzie Gardler is the granddaughter of the late Bud Gardler, who was Auriemma's high school coach at Bishop Kenrick in nearby Norristown. Her aunt Meghan played for Auriemma at UConn.
Approaching PAT
The win improved Auriemma to 1,096-142 in 36 seasons. The eleven-time national coach is two wins against legendary Tennessee coach Pat Summitt. Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer is the most successful Division I basketball coach for women of all time with 1,101 career wins.
UConn: The Huskies have a week off before their next scheduled game on December 30th in Marquette.
Villanova: After a 10-day break, the Wildcats are slated to host Georgetown on January 2nd.
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More AP women's basketball: https://apnews.com/womens-college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25
Villanova: After a 10-day break, the Wildcats are slated to host Georgetown on January 2nd.

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