Nell Fortner (left) and Lorela Cubaj (right) | Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets snapped the UConn Huskies’ 240-game win streak vs. unranked opponents. Lorela Cubaj stuffed the stat sheet for the winners.
In a game that was tied after three, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets outscored the Paige Bueckers and Azzi Fudd-less UConn Huskies 18-5 in the fourth quarter to hand the No. 3 team in the nation its first loss to an unranked team since 2012 Thursday night at McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta.
Helluva night pic.twitter.com/GXrl4giQJe
— Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (@GTAthletics) December 10, 2021
The Yellow Jackets (7-2, 0-0 ACC) won by a final score of 57-44 and a 15-1 run to open the fourth was the key. It featured six points from Nerea Hermosa, a gutsy, guard-like face-up play from star forward Lorela Cubaj to create a mid-range look and make and an offensive rebound turned layup from Digna Strautmane. The rest of the points on the run came from Lotta-Maj Lahtinen free throws.
UConn (5-2, 1-0 Big East) was playing in its first game without the reigning national Player of the Year in Bueckers, who suffered a tibial plateau fracture last Sunday in a Husky win over No. 22 Notre Dame and is out for six to eight weeks. With Bueckers, the Huskies had been 5-1, with the only loss coming to No. 1 South Carolina.
Fudd is the No. 1 Hoop Gurlz recruit this year and this was her third game out with a foot injury.
UConn was missing a third member of its rotation in Nika Mühl, who is also out with a foot injury.
Cubaj finished with five points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, two steals and two blocks. She entered the game tied for eighth in the nation in rebounds per game. Hermosa ended up with 13 points, six boards and three assists, while Lahtinen led the team with 15 points to go along with three helpers and two steals and Strautmane had eight points, seven boards and three blocks. Eylia Love joined Lahtinen and Hermosa in double figures with 10 points and registered two rejections.
Georgia Tech led 13-9 after one and the game was tied at halftime before an even third quarter.
Even with Bueckers, Fudd and Mühl out, it was impressive that the Yellow Jackets hung with the Huskies through three quarters before taking over. UConn still had the likes of Olivia Nelson-Ododa (12 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks), Evina Westbrook (11 points, six assists, three steals) and Christyn Williams (13 points, three assists), as well as very good players in Dorka Juhász and Aaliyah Edwards, who were held to a combined two points on 1-of-10 shooting from the field. Juhász made the one field goal.
UConn was 0-of-4 from deep while in desperation mode in the final 2:46 of the game and 2-of-15 on the night.
Georgia Tech could have made things easier on itself if it had shot better than 8-of-16 from the free throw line.
UConn last lost to an unranked team 240 tries ago on Feb. 18, 2012 when it fell to St. John’s in a much closer affair (57-56). The Red Storm were receiving votes back then and moved up to No. 25 after the win. The Yellow Jackets are currently receiving votes and have been ranked as high as No. 17 this year.
In the last 25 years, only four coaches have beaten Geno Auriemma in their first meeting with him.
Three have come in 2021
2021: Nell Fortner (Georgia Tech)
2021: Adia Barnes (Arizona)
2021: Mike Neighbors (Arkansas)
2007: Bob Starkey (LSU) pic.twitter.com/tfD607WtIg
— espnW (@espnW) December 10, 2021