Women's College Basketball

Fudd, Griffin lead Huskies over Baylor in Round 2


Baylor Bears forward Caitlin Bickle pulls down a rebound over the outstretched arms of UConn Husky forward Dorka Juhasz during Monday’s Round 2 game of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at UConn’s Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. Photo by Mike D’Avino/Sportspage Magazine

UConn guard Azzi Fudd scored 22 points to lead the Huskies to a 77-58 win over the Baylor Bears in the second round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament in front of 10,167 at the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn., on Monday night.

Following the opening tip, Bears guard Sarah Andrews blocked Fudd’s layup attempt, but guard Ja’Mee Asberry missed on the jump shot during the Baylor possession.

Asberry fouled UConn guard Lou Lopez-Senechal, who converted both free throws for the game’s first score. Husky forward Aaliyah Edwards followed that up with a layup, to push the score to 4-0 in favor of the home team.

Unlike Saturday, when Baylor had difficulty scoring in the opening quarter against Alabama, the Bears soon found their stride. Baylor went on a quick 7-0 run with two jumpers from guard Bella Fontleroy and a three-pointer by Asberry. The run ended when UConn forward Dorka Juhasz was fouled by Fontleroy while driving for a layup. Juhasz scored the basket but missed the free throw, leaving Baylor with a one-point edge.

Asberry scored a three-pointer with 6:29 remaining in the quarter, but in a review of the play, the officials declared that she had fouled Lopez-Senechal in an unobserved intentional foul a second later. The basket was good but UConn could send anybody to the free throw line to shoot a pair of free throws. The Huskies sent Fudd to the line. She made one of two from the charity stripe. Because it was an unobserved intentional foul, UConn kept possession, which allowed Fudd to score a three-pointer to tie the game at 10-10.

The teams traded baskets for the next three minutes before the Bears took off on a quick 8-0 run. Guard Jaden Owens nailed a three pointer, which was followed by one from guard Jada Van Gytenbeek, and a layup by guard Darianna Littlepage-Buggs, to push the score to 21-15 in favor of the visiting Bears.

Juhasz and Fontleroy each exchanged three-pointers to end the quarter with Baylor leading 24-18. Baylor scored on six three-point shots in the first quarter compared to two for UConn.

When play resumed, UConn jumped out on a 9-0 run with six points from Edwards and a three-pointer by guard Caroline Ducharme. This gave UConn a three-point lead, which was cut to one when Andrews broke the run with a layup with 6:44 left in the half.

Yet for UConn, it seemed that the party had just started. Ducharme, Edwards, Lopez-Senechal and guard Aubrey Griffin all scored in the next two minutes to pushed the score to 35-26 in favor of the Huskies with 4:55 left until halftime. UConn was on a 17-2 run since the beginning of the quarter.

Baylor guard Jaden Owens looks to pass while being defended by UConn guard Nika Muhl during Monday’s Round 2 game of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at UConn’s Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. Photo by Mike D’Avino/Sportspage Magazine

However, Baylor soon righted the ship and went on a 6-0 run of their own with free throws from forward Caitlin Bickle and Fontleroy and a three-pointer from Owens. Yet Husky guard Nika Muhl sank a near half-court shot as time expired to give UConn the 40-35 lead at the half.

The third quarter began with the teams trading buckets, but then Edwards, who scored eight points in the second quarter, got hit with her fourth foul just three minutes into the second half forcing her to miss the rest of the quarter and nearly the first half of the fourth quarter.

Baylor cut the deficit to three on a three-pointer by Asberry with 6:25 left in the quarter. Then she picked off an inbounds pass from Ducharme for the fast break layup to cut the deficit to one. Fudd hit a jump shot, which was answered by a trey by Owens. The score was tied 46-46 with 5:15 left in the quarter.

Fudd took charge for the rest of the quarter as she led UConn on a 16-4 run, scoring a dozen points herself in the process. Juhasz and Griffin each scored for UConn. Baylor had layups from Littlepage-Buggs and Owens during that stretch. When the quarter ended, the Huskies had a commanding 62-50 lead with Edwards still on the bench. However, Griffin pulled down four offensive rebounds and six total rebounds in the quarter to give her team a spark and keep the run alive.

The size of the deficit forced the Bears to shoot more from the perimeter in the final frame. However, the shots weren’t falling. Fontleroy and Asberry each scored treys in the quarter, but Baylor shot only 2-for-8 (25 percent) from beyond the arc in the fourth quarter, and went 3-for-16 (19 percent) from the field in that span. Littlepage-Buggs scored a layup, which was team’s only other fourth quarter score.

UConn scored 15 fourth quarter points with seven points from Edwards, five from Ducharme, and three from Lopez-Senechal. Defensively, the Huskies pulled down 11 defensive rebounds in the quarter, which kept Baylor out-of-rhythm.

Both teams substituted their starters for bench players for the final two minutes. Neither team scored during that stretch. When the final buzzer sounded, UConn won 77-58. It was the 108th double-digit win for UConn in the NCAA Women’s Tournament, a record for both men’s and women’s tournaments.

UConn guard Azzi Fudd led all scorers with 22 points as the Huskies downed Baylor 77-58 in Monday’s Round 2 game of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at UConn’s Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. Photo by Mike D’Avino/Sportspage Magazine

UConn finished the game with 32-for-62 in field goal shooting (51.6 percent), and 8-for-23 for a 34.8 three-point field goal percentage. Fudd led all scorers with 22, with 16 points in the third quarter alone. Edwards added 19 points, Juhasz added 11 and Ducharme 10 for UConn. Griffin pulled down 12 rebounds to lead the Huskies.

Baylor went 21-for-61 from the field (34.4 percent), and 12-for-29 from beyond the arc (41.4 percent). Asberry lead the Bears in scoring with 15, Owens added 14 and Fontleroy chipped in with 12. Bickle led the Bears with eight rebounds.

The Huskies scored 36 points in the paint compared to Baylor’s 12. UConn also dominated the Bears 13-4 in second chance points. Baylor turned the ball over 13 times compared to 15 for UConn.

“If we could have ended the game at 25 minutes in, I think it was really, really good battle; contrasting styles and similar at the same time,” said Baylor head coach Nicki Collen. “I thought when Aaliyah Edwards picked up her fourth foul that would be a momentum changer for us. Ironically, it was the opposite. Aubrey Griffin came in and to me was the difference maker for them, and it just goes to show you it’s not always about who scores all the points, but the extra possessions she created, the energy she created in transition, the way she was flying around, like she just changed the energy for this whole team. Azzi Fudd looked like the Azzi we were watching in November before she got hurt. She was making her pull-up, getting all the way to the basket. But I thought it was Griffin’s energy that just really changed the game.”

“Well, there was a period of time during that game where I thought we’re really, really, really in big trouble because we were having so much trouble executing the defensive game plan that we wanted,” said Geno Auriemma, UConn head coach. “So that whole first half was a struggle, struggle, struggle, and we came out in the second half and I don’t think there was ever a time I thought we would win the game. The change in our players and the defensive changes that we made and the intensity level that we played at, it’s probably one of the more gratifying wins that I’ve had in this building.”

Auriemma was amazed at how well Baylor shot their three-pointers.

“They made 26 threes in two days? Made 14 the other day? We did a great job then. We held them to 12. Wow,” he said. “They’re averaging six a game. This is what happens in the NCAA tournament. A lot of home teams get beat during the NCAA tournament. So much for home-court advantage, right?”

UConn guard Nika Muhl hit a near half-court buzzer beater at halftime during Monday’s Round 2 game of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at UConn’s Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. Photo by Mike D’Avino/Sportspage Magazine

Jaden Owens knows that her team is dangerous when it comes to the three point shot, but knows that her teammates are more than just about the three.

“We have great shooters on the team. I feel like everybody can shoot the three, so I wouldn’t say that’s our game plan. Our game plan was to just to get our paint touches and just execute wherever play that Coach Nicki wants to us run,” said Owens. “If it’s an open three, we’re going to take it. I don’t think – we don’t want to live and die by the three, but Ja’Mee [Asberry], Sarah [Andrews], they were really on, and that’s what we wanted to keep going with.”

UConn’s Nika Muhl knows that Griffin was an important reason why her team won.

“I mean, Aubrey was just incredible, and it’s like you guys know that she’s dealing with back spasms and all of that, but behind the scenes, just like to see her go through stuff like that every day and still show up in practice – I talked to her the other day. I said, if you
playing games for us means not practicing for the rest of year, that’s fine with me,” said Muhl. “I mean, if I could say who was MVP of that game, it was definitely Aubrey.”

UConn, the No. 2 seed of the Seattle 3 regional bracket, will now advance to the Sweet Sixteen game against No. 3 ranked The Ohio State at Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena on Saturday afternoon.

Recommended for you