UConn women’s basketball beats USC to advance to Final Four

PORTLAND, Ore. —The UConn women’s Basketball On Monday, the No. 3 seed Huskies upset No. USC defeated No. 1 seed 80-73, advancing to the Division I record 23rd final four under coach Geno Auriemma.

The Huskies will face the regional champion of Albany 2 Iowa in Cleveland on Friday. UConn advanced to the final game of the NCAA championship in 2022. It finished as runner-up behind South Carolina.

“Today was one of the most rewarding feelings I’ve ever felt in my life, just seeing where I was a year ago today … Now I’m here with my teammates and coaching staff and going to the Final Four,” superstar guard Paige Bueckers said. “It has been a rewarding journey and I am super, super grateful.” The tough times have made who I am. It’s strengthened my faith. It’s helped me appreciate life and be grateful for everything that comes my way.

The Huskies were slow to start, allowing a run of 8-0 early in the quarter that left them trailing by as much as nine points. UConn was the worst offender, going 0-for-4 at 3-point range. The Huskies went 6-for-15 in the field to trail the Trojans 17-15 by the end of the quarter. USC, however, shot just 6-for-18 on the field.

Bueckers was on fire in the second quarter but USC’s freshman star was also a phenom JuJu Watkins She went with me. The Huskies senior led the team with four assists and 15 points on 5-for-11 shooting at halftime. Watkins shot nearly identically to Bueckers. Watkins scored 13 points and had four rebounds on 4-for-8.

Bueckers continued her dominance after the halftime break, finishing with 28 point shooting 11-for-24 and 3-for-6 on three-pointers. She had her third double -double of the tourney with 10 rebounds. six assists, three blocks, and two steals. All-American forward Aaliyah Edwards Also led the second-half effort with 28 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 steals.

“Today, (Paige), was playing against someone who plays like he’s superhuman. I think JuJu was probably the toughest matchup that any of those guards had throughout the entire season — maybe since they’ve gotten to Connecticut,” Auriemma said. “But for Paige, this is what (she) lives for … When you have players that think like there’s nothing I can’t do, there’s nothing that escapes me, they’re just on another level. They play on a different level. They think at a different level. They inspire everyone around.

UConn’s defensive unit held Watkins to only five points in the first quarter, and forced four turnovers on her dribble. The USC star scored just three points during the third quarter. However, she scored 13 in the final quarter to finish with 29 total points, 10 rebounds, two blocks and 10 rebounds.

“The child gets 25 every night so we won’t be holding her to 10. Auriemma said: “We can’t let her reach 40. It’s not easy.” “We had someone always nearby whenever she picked up the ball, put it down on the floor, and started running. It was not going to be just her attacking someone one on one. But she’s so good at getting to her spots … and creating contact, finishing through contact. She just doesn’t play like a freshman at all … but I think we made her work exceptionally hard.”

Freshman Ashlynn Shade Qadence Samuels, who has not played since the Huskies’ matchup in the first round against Jackson State, came off the bench to make her first appearance. The freshman delivered by draining UConn’s first 3-pointer in the game with six minute left in the first-half to extend an 8-1 run that helped the Huskies reach a 33-33 tie at halftime.

Auriemma leant on his bench at the Big East Tournament more than any other time in the postseason. Redshirt freshman Ice Brady joined Samuels at the mid-point of the second quarter. It was the first time UConn has played multiple reserve players together since the fourth period against Jackson State. Brady was crucial to the defensive effort against Watkins, and logged 8 points on 3-for-4 shots in 18 minutes.

In the second half of the game, the Huskies were quickly plagued by foul trouble due to the fact that they only had eight players. Nika Muhl, a senior point guard, was assessed her fourth foul with more than 2 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. By the end of the quarter, all 5 starters had at least two fouled. The Huskies were able to make it to the final buzzer with no fouls, while USC’s starting forward Kaitlyn Davies fouled out in the last 30 second.

“KK had four fouled and Nika had four fouled, and there it crossed my mind, I knew she was going to foul out, and i’m going have to put KK as a freshmen in an impossible position. Auriemma replied, “I just crossed fingers and prayed.” “Because today she did it in shoot-around. She did something stupid, and she fouled someone and I lost it. She says, I won’t be doing that tonight. I said yes, you’ll do it. I’ve seen it over four years … Did I trust she would be able to do it? No, but i prayed.”

USC did not let UConn get away. Kaitlyn padilla, who had followed up Brady’s corner 3-pointer with a buzzer beater three at the close of the third period, made it 55-51 UConn heading into the fourth quarter. The Trojans tied it at 59 points, with seven minutes remaining. Bueckers then responded with five consecutive points to take a double-digit lead.

The Huskies nearly had a disaster in the final seconds. They allowed a 7-1 run, with seven missed free-throws in the last minutes of the game. Muhl broke the scoreless streak with two baskets from the line, making it a 7 point game with 16 seconds left.

“When it all comes to fruition, it is a beautiful experience.” I was really surprised by the celebration. Auriemma said: “That was pretty awesome.” “You can still tell it means a lot, you know?” We did it with 3,000 files at home. God forbid. No one ever believed we could win outside of Storrs. Connecticut. I’m happy we were able a win out here.”

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