UConn Women’s Basketball Team Back In Final Four

Just a year ago, Connecticut’s Paige Bueckers sat as a spectator with a knee injury during the women’s NCAA Basketball Tournament. In Monday night’s match up against Southern California, Bueckers gave it everything she had, scoring 28 points to lift UConn to an 80-73 regional final win to send them to this year’s Final Four.

Bueckers hit 11 of 23 shots and finished with 10 rebounds, six assists and three steals to help the Huskies secure a spot in the Final Four. She said she felt grateful to overcome her injury and compete this season.

Match Overlook

The match up consisted of back-and-forth competitive play between both teams. UConn’s offensive production was led by Bueckers but senior Nika Muhl added eight points and eight assists, and senior Aaliyah Edwards recorded 24 points and six rebounds.

USC freshman All-American Juju Watkins scored 29 points, but UConn’s constant double-team defenders prevented Watkins from having a clean look at the rim. Watkins delivered a 3-pointer in the second quarter to set the record for most points ever scored by a freshman in NCAA history.

Graduate Mackenzie Forbes spoke about Watkins and how excited she is for what’s to come.

Southern California rallied to pull even at 59-59 with 7:21 left. Watkins scored five points and Forbes’ shot her fourth 3-pointer of the game. UConn missed six free throws in the final minute and let a 12-point lead dwindle down to five, but managed to hold the lead. The Huskies extended their record number to 23 Final Four appearances.

USC’s Lindsey Gottlieb said she feels as much hurt as USC is in, UConn earned its way to a final four. She said she credits Bueckers for being out for two years and coming back to achieve this. Although USC fell short, Gottlieb emphasized how proud she is what the team achieved.

U Conn coach Geno Auriemma said he was proud of his team’s performance and how they never gave up on achieving their dream. He expressed a lot of positive emotion.

What’s to Come

Iowa senior Caitlin Clark’s first NCAA Tournament was cut short with a loss to Bueckers and UConn in the Sweet 16. The two teams will meet in a rematch in Cleveland. Clark and Bueckers are former Team USA teammates chasing a national championship.

While Clark has tallied 70 points and 27 assists over two regional wins, the Huskies have a wide perimeter of  defenders including Bueckers and Muhl set to try and slow her down.

The Connecticut team will face the Iowa Hawkeyes in the nightcap at 9:30 p.m. Friday.

 

About Hailey Hurst

Hailey Hurst is a second-year journalism major with a sports media focus. She is aspiring for a career in sports media writing/production. Contact her at hurst.haileyj@gmail.com

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