MILWAUKEE – UConn coach Geno Auriemma could sense from the start of the night that something was off about his team.
By the time the evening ended, the Huskies were staring at their first losing streak in three decades, ending one of the most remarkable achievements in college basketball history.
Chloe Marotta had 19 points and Jordan King added 18 as Marquette defeated UConn 59-52 on Wednesday. The Huskies, who were playing three nights after an 81-77 home loss to No. 1 South Carolina, dropped consecutive games for the first time since March 1993.
“When people read that stat and they look back, that is a fairy-tale stat,” Auriemma said. “And all fairy tales – they don’t always come true – but everything has an end. So this ended here at Marquette.”
Marquette (16-8, 9-6 Big East) beat UConn (21-4, 13-1) for the first time in 17 meetings.
The Golden Eagles 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.
“We came into a huddle and we were at the media timeout in the fourth quarter, and I was like, `We were here last year. I’m not watching film on how we lost in the last five minutes,’ ” King said. “You have to put 40 minutes of basketball together. For us, I felt we did that.”
Marquette coach Megan Duffy, who played at Notre Dame from 2002-06, became just the third person ever to beat an Auriemma-coached UConn team as both a player and a coach. The others are South Carolina’s Dawn Staley and Villanova’s Denise Dillon.
“In some ways, I’m speechless,” Duffy said. “The next emotion is I’m just incredibly proud of these women and what they did tonight – a historic win for Marquette women’s basketball. We knew we were up against a buzzsaw with Connecticut losing on Sunday.”
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.
“I think that just completely and totally deflated us,” Auriemma said. “After the week that we’ve had – after the 10 days, two weeks, whatever – we just, I think mentally, all of us … I think we just checked out. It was a major struggle because they were so locked in, their team, in what they wanted to do.”
UConn tied 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 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.
“I said this to them in the locker room,” Auriemma said. “I don’t know if it was residue from Sunday, whether something in practice yesterday, something on the trip over, but there was a collective something different about today.”
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.