Women's College Basketball

UConn downs Indiana, advances to Elite Eight


The UConn Huskies used a 16-0 third quarter run to down the No. 3 Indiana Hoosiers 75-58 Saturday and advance their way to their 16th Elite Eight women’s basketball tournament game.

UConn guard Christyn Williams begins a drive during Saturday night’s Sweet Sixteen game against the Indiana Hoosiers. Photo by James C. Garman/Sportspage Magazine.

Playing in front of an announced crowd of 8,502 at Total Mortgage Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the Hoosiers began the scoring on a 4-0 run on baskets by Mackenzie Holmes and Ali Patberg, and stretched it to a 8-4 run midway through the first quarter.

UConn guard Paige Bueckers answered with two jumpers to go along with a three-pointer by Azzi Fudd to pull the Huskies to within one.

However, on the next play, Bueckers tried to pick off a pass destined for Indiana’s Grace Berger at midcourt. Bueckers hit the floor and came up grabbing her left knee, which she injured in a Dec. 5 game against Notre Dame. Bueckers checked out of the game with 2:48 remaining in the quarter and was replaced by Nika Muhl.

Despite a slow start, UConn was able to end the quarter with a three-point lead, 21-18. Bueckers returned to the lineup during the break.

The second quarter began with Indiana’s Patberg connecting on a three-pointer to tie the game. UConn responded with a 6-0 run which ended when Patberg connected on another trey.

Eight points from Patberg and four from Holmes kept the Hoosiers in it during the second quarter, which UConn led 37-33.

Bueckers began the third quarter scoring with a three-pointer off an inbounds play in UConn’s first second half possession. The Hoosiers couldn’t keep up as they were buried under an avalanche of UConn points in a 16-0 run over the next four minutes. Nicole Cardano-Hillary made a driving layup to break the run with 5:56 left in the quarter. UConn led 53-35.

Now the Hoosiers were battling both UConn and the clock. All they could do was try to chip away at the deficit. Berger scored six in the third quarter and Cardano-Hillary netted five to bring the Hoosiers to a 13-point deficit, 59-46 Husky lead at the end of the third.

Indiana continued to chip away at the deficit, pulling to within 11 on a Holmes hook shot with 5:58 remaining in regulation, but that was as close as they would get. UConn pulled out a 75-58 victory when the final buzzer sounded.

Indiana Hoosier guard Ali Patberg drives the baseline against UConn Huskies forward Dorka Juhasz during Saturday night’s Sweet Sixteen game at Bridgeport, Conn. Photo by James C. Garman/Sportspage Magazine.

Ali Patberg led all scorers with 16. This was followed by 13 from Berger and 12 from Holmes to round out the scoring for Indiana.

UConn was led by 15 each from Bueckers and Christyn Williams followed by 13 from Fudd, while Olivia Nelson-Ododa chipped in 10.

Nelson-Ododa led all rebounders with 14, and teammate Aaliyah Edwards grabbed 10 more for the Huskies. Holmes led the Hoosiers with six boards.

“Well, first of all, congratulations to a very good UConn team. We felt like we got off to a fast start and a really good start,” said Hoosier head coach Teri Moren. “Had a little bit of momentum going into halftime after Lex hits that big three and pulls within four, and we probably needed to stay out there because we went back into the locker room and made some adjustments. Needed to do a better job of protecting the paint. We were unable to do that today, and give the credit to UConn.”

Regarding the third quarter lapse that enabled UConn to jump out on an aggressive run, Moren said, “But we came back out in the third quarter, and it was just really a bugaboo for us. They got off to a 16-0 run, made a 16-0 run, and you just can’t allow that to happen against a team like UConn. It’s very difficult to overcome a start like that. We just did some uncharacteristic things of our team. We knew it. We were disappointed with that, and then we just didn’t do a good enough job on the boards today. They got second and third-shot opportunities.”

Indiana’s Patberg said, “I’m disappointed we lost. I’m not a good loser. So this is not how I envisioned going out. But I’m just thankful that Coach Moren believed in me five years ago and gave me an opportunity to wear Hoosier on my chest… It hurts right now, but I’m thankful.”

In regards to the UConn run, Holmes said, “I think that’s kind of where we lost our momentum a little bit. We lost on the boards, too, which we’re not going to win any games when we do that. So that was hard, and I just think that, yeah, it was a collection of those things.”

UConn head coach Geno Auriemma knows that he has what he termed “a conundrum” when it comes to

UConn Huskies guard Paige Bueckers celebrataes after making a clutch shot during Saturday night’s Sweet Sixteen game against the Indiana Hoosiers at Bridgeport, Conn. Photo by James C. Garman/Sportspage Magazine.

Bueckers playing time.

“We really want Paige to do well because she’s coming off of a big, big surgery, and we want her to play well. We know how good she is, so we want her to be the Paige that she was,” said Auriemma. “What you don’t want is to sit around and root for Paige while the game is going on instead of playing basketball. It’s been a little bit of finding ourselves again, how much do
we want to cheer for Paige and how much do we need to just play basketball and make shots and let her figure her own way out there.”

“Yeah, it was an aggressive game. I knew I was going to take some hits on both sides, but that’s basketball, and I love it. I’m fine,” said Bueckers. “[Playing aggressive] is something Coach has been harping on me about a lot, and it helps me just to not think if I come out aggressive out of the gate. 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, I just played basketball and I took what the defense gave me.”

UConn now advances to the Elite Eight where they will face the N.C. State Wolfpack on Monday night at 6 p.m. CT, also at Total Mortgage Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

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