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Final: No. 1 UConn Women’s Basketball Slices No. 8 Syracuse, 94-64

Kia Nurse could not be stopped as the Huskies win their 109th consecutive game.

Ian Bethune for The UConn Blog

There’s just something about Monday night tournament games with this UConn women’s basketball team. Exactly two weeks to the day from Katie Lou Samuelson’s record-setting three-point game, junior Kia Nurse put together a sparkling performance of her own.

The junior was simply unstoppable, hitting a NCAA Tournament-record nine three-pointers in UConn’s 94-64 win over Syracuse. The Orange had no answer for Nurse, who hit from all over the court. She finished with 29 points and also racked up six assists.

“Once you see one or two go in the net, you shoot it with confidence,” Nurse said after the game. “I felt like this week if I could get in the gym and see a couple go through the net, I’d knock them in.”

Nurse improves to 14-of-19 from behind the arc over the first two games of the NCAA Tournament, so it would be safe to say her previously injured ankle is feeling better.

Syracuse held close with the Huskies out of the gate—it was still a two-point game with just under six minutes left in the half. However, UConn closed the quarter on a 7-0 run, part of a 25-4 sprint which allowed the Huskies to pull away quickly.

Syracuse’s offense revolves around the three-point shot. In its first round game against Iowa State, the Orange hit 15 threes. In the first half of this one, they were just 3-of-9 from beyond the arc and finished with eight total, most of which came in garbage time.

“It was a double-whammy for Syracuse,” Geno Auriemma said. “We took away their biggest weapon, the three, and we really hurt them with the three.”

While Gabby Williams typically thrives in the post for the Huskies, Auriemma found a different role for the versatile forward. Offensively, she handled the ball more to help counteract Syracuse’s press defense. On the other end, she guarded the perimeter to keep the ‘best backcourt in the country’ in check.

“When your center’s the fastest guy on your team and a tremendous ballhandler, that’s really tough on the other team,” Auriemma shared.

Williams finished the night with 23 points, adding six rebounds and dishing five assists.

The Huskies passed the ball well all night, notching an assist on 30 of 33 made baskets. Four players finished with five or more assists while Samuelson and Collier had four and three, respectively.

“Our ball movement was incredible,” said Auriemma. “I shake my head. They were really good.”

With the win, UConn advances to their 24th consecutive Sweet Sixteen. Next, they head to Bridgeport where they will face the No. 4 seed in the region, UCLA Bruins. A win would tie Geno Auriemma with Pat Summit for the most career NCAA Tournament wins with 112. They will play on Saturday with the time to be announced.

Geno Auriemma, Kia Nurse, Gabby Williams Postgame:

Katie Lou Samuelson, Gabby Williams, Saniya Chong, Napheesa Collier Postgame:

Photo gallery and video credits: Ian Bethune for The UConn Blog