Is Caroline Ducharme turning a corner?
The sophomore played two of her best games prior to the Huskies’ holiday break.
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Is Caroline Ducharme finally turning a corner?
After UConn women’s basketball’s resounding 98-73 win over Seton Hall on Wednesday, there was a sense of relief. The Huskies would break for a few days to allow the players to return home or visit friends and families for the holidays, providing the team with its first real time off since the start of the season.
After dealing with both players and coaches going down through the first two months, UConn is clearly looking forward to the time off.
“This is a great time for everybody,” associate head coach Chris Dailey said postgame. “Starting with Coach (Geno Auriemma) all the way down, I think it’s a great time just to get away and be able to spend time with your family.
“It’s just a good way to just recharge,” Aaliyah Edwards echoed. “I think we all just want some family time and just to put basketball to the side.”
The break might not be coming at the best time for everyone, though. Especially Caroline Ducharme, who’s coming off two of her better games this season. She started to look like herself in 31 minutes against Florida State where she racked up nine points and seven rebounds, then broke out for a season-high 16 points in the win over Seton Hall.
“The Florida State game and this game, she gave us a lift off the bench and we needed that,” Dailey said about Ducharme on Wednesday.
While the sophomore chipped in everywhere against Seton Hall, her shooting took center stage. Coming into the game, Ducharme had hit a paltry 37.5 percent from the field and 30.4 percent from three but on Wednesday, she went 6-of-8 overall and 4-of-6 from three — both of which set season-highs for makes.
“We know that Caroline can hit those threes so by passing her the ball and having more threats on the outside, it’s very important,” Lou Lopez Sénéchal said. “She’s been doing her thing.”
It didn’t take long for Ducharme to get going. She subbed in late in the first quarter, started off with an assist then scored back-to-back baskets to lead the Huskies on an 8-0 run. Ducharme played aggressive and with confidence while also not forcing anything, either. When she had an open look, she didn’t hesitate to call her own number but if it wasn’t there, she just dished to a teammate. Ducharme finished with five rebounds and three assists on top of her big scoring total.
Her overall impact on the game didn’t go unnoticed.
“You don’t play well only when you make shots. There are things that you can do on the offensive and defensive ends that impact the game without scoring,” Dailey said. “I think she is probably focusing a little bit more on doing those things that help the team than worrying about whether her shot goes in.”
The key for Ducharme will be stacking these good performances on top of each other. Earlier in the year, she had a two-game stretch where she combined for 25 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists against Iowa and Providence but followed that up by scoring four points and committing eight turnovers across the next two contests. Ducharme’s recent play has been promising, but even she admitted the bar is low at the moment.
“I’m still kind of not where I want to be. I still feel like I have a long way to go,” she said. “But I think it’s definitely a step in the right direction.”
While she might’ve benefitted from a string of games to really find her groove, Ducharme will still benefit from the break. She admitted last Friday that she isn’t back 100 percent after missing the summer while recovering from hip surgery and then dealing with neck stiffness that kept her out of the season opener, so the time off should do her well, especially with her confidence climbing after the last two games.
“I think with my injury, it’s been pretty up and down so to be able to get a couple good games, a good stretch of practice [then] go into break and reset, get healthy again, it means a lot,” Ducharme said.
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