UConn nips Stanford to return to national championship game

MINNEAPOLIS — Geno Auriemma and the UConn Huskies are again within the NCAA title game for the primary time in six years after getting by one of the crucial tough seasons of the Hall of Fame coach’s profession.

Paige Bueckers scored 14 factors and UConn superior to the national championship game with a 63-58 win over defending champion Stanford on Friday night time.

“We didn’t play our A-game on the offensive end, but we did the things we needed to do when we had to do them,” Auriemma stated. “We came up big. Don’t know what more I can say about this group than we have been saying. pretty remarkable to be honest with you.”

The Huskies will face South Carolina for the national championship on Sunday night time. The Gamecocks beat Louisville 72-59 within the first game of the national semifinals. UConn and South Carolina met in November within the championship game of a match within the Bahamas, and the Gamecocks used a powerful fourth quarter to win.

It’s UConn’s first journey to the championship game since 2016, when the Huskies gained the final of 4 straight titles. Since then, the group has suffered heartbreaking defeats within the national semifinals, dropping twice in extra time.

Paige Bueckers, who scored 14 points, celebrates after UConn's win.
Paige Bueckers, who scored 14 factors, celebrates after UConn’s win.
Getty Images

“I’ve gone into other games at this time and lost and felt a sense of really took me a long, long time to get over some losses in this particular game,” Auriemma stated. “This one I didn’t think it would take a long time since we gave it everything we had and it might not be enough. Fortunately, Stanford didn’t have its best.”

UConn (30-5) is looking for its twelfth national championship, and the Huskies have by no means misplaced in an NCAA title game.

“We know everybody in the world doesn’t think we’re going to win, so we’re like, we might as well just prove everybody wrong and prove ourselves right. We’ve got one more game, we’re not satisfied with this,” Bueckers stated. “We’re just trying to win a national championship and leave everything out on the line and it’s our last game of the season, so we have nothing left to give.”.

They had to work to get to the finals. Leading by 52-44 with 1:26 left, Stanford made a livid rally thanks to a couple of expensive UConn turnovers.

Geno Auriemma
Geno Auriemma

Cameron Brink’s layup with 18.4 seconds left received the Cardinal inside 60-58. UConn was ready to work seven seconds off the clock earlier than Christyn Williams was fouled with 11 seconds left. The senior guard calmly swished each free throws to restore a two-possession lead.

Ashten Prechtel utterly missed a troublesome contested 3-pointer from the wing with 5.4 seconds left and the Huskies held on for the win.

Haley Jones led the Cardinal (32-4) with 20 factors.

“We didn’t play very well tonight,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer stated. “We really struggled running our offense. There was some self-inflicted wounds with what we did out there. It was disappointing. Thought our defense worked really hard.”

The Huskies superior to the title game after overcoming having eight gamers sit out at the least two video games this season with harm or sickness, together with Bueckers, who missed practically three months with a left knee harm suffered in early December.

In the fourth quarter, Bueckers got here up grimacing when she went down exhausting going for a defensive rebound. She left the game for a couple of minutes, and each time she hit the ground, she appeared to examine on her knee. She stated after the game she was superb.

This was the most recent matchup on the most important stage between the Hall of Fame coaches, who’re first and second on the all-time wins checklist in ladies’s basketball. Their two groups met 27 years in the past in Minneapolis to the day within the national semifinals and the Huskies additionally gained that one. They went on to win their first title that yr.

The game received off to a sluggish begin as neither group actually might discover its taking pictures contact. UConn led 12-9 after one quarter and was up 27-26 on the half. The groups mixed to shoot 36% (23 for 64) within the opening 20 minutes.

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