UConn is one win away from a 14th straight Final Four
The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team used a big run in the third quarter to advance past Indiana University in Saturday’s NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game.
UConn’s 16 unanswered points kicked off the second half of the game and propelled the Huskies to a 75-58 win over the Hoosiers.
Guard Paige Bueckers scored seven of her team-high 15 points during that 16-0 third-quarter run.
“We started pushing the ball in transition more,” Bueckers told reporters after the game. “We got a few easy buckets there. But I thought we played with a lot better pace and just a lot better energy coming out in that second half.”
Bueckers said the key to her play was something head coach Geno Auriemma has demanded from her of late: to be more aggressive when handling the ball.
“It’s easy to come back from an injury and think a lot and second-guess your decisions, but I thought it helped me a lot just coming out of the gate aggressive just because I didn’t have to think about anything,” Bueckers said. “I just played basketball, and I took what the defense gave me.”
Auriemma says that Bueckers’ game is “not quite there yet but further along than it’s been” since her return.
For Auriemma, the key to Saturday’s win was UConn’s massive advantage on the glass. The Huskies grabbed 15 offensive rebounds, while Indiana had two. Auriemma thought that was a big reason the team took 19 more shots than the Hoosiers took.
“When you do that, it’s usually because of second shots. We’re a good offensive team and to give us more than one shot, that’s allowing us to do what we do best.”
The Huskies shot 46% from the field for the game. Christyn Williams also had 15 points, and right behind Williams and Bueckers was freshman guard Azzi Fudd, who scored 13 points.
The leading scorer for both teams was Indiana guard Ali Patberg with 16 points. For UConn, though, it was more about how Patberg’s teammate Grace Berger did. Williams said after the game that they wanted to shut Berger down on defense. While Berger finished with 13 points, she scored just two points in her first 18 minutes of play. Williams said that Berger relies on screens off the ball to score, so she had to stay on Berger’s hip.
“We knew we were going to have a tough assignment with her — her pull-ups are crazy, and she’s a strong guard,” Williams said. “We just knew that was the emphasis coming into the game that we were going to have to stop her.”
Next up for the Huskies: a shot at a 14th straight Final Four appearance. Even though UConn is playing in Connecticut, the Huskies will technically be the away team in Monday’s Bridgeport Regional Final. They take on the top seed in their region, North Carolina State University.