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Sweet 16 Final Score: UConn Women’s Basketball Holds Off UCLA, 86-71

The game was more competitive than usual, but Geno and the Huskies hung on for the win.

Napheesa Collier drives past Monique Billings to the basket.
Ian Bethune for The UConn Blog

It wasn’t easy, but the UConn women’s basketball team took down UCLA, 86-71, in Sweet 16 action in Bridgeport. The Huskies advance to their 12th-straight Elite Eight as head coach Geno Auriemma tied longtime rival Pat Summit with his 112th NCAA Tournament win.

The Huskies stumbled at the start and the Bruins took advantage, pulling ahead 9-2 early on. UConn hit just one of its first eight shots.

But Geno’s squad eventually found its groove and it was quickly slipping away for UCLA. The Huskies first mounted a 7-0 run to tie the game, then a 20-4 run put the Huskies in control in the 2nd quarter.

The Bruins had a chance to close the gap going into the half as UConn went 2:30 without scoring but they could not capitalize on the opportunity.

Despite taking a 19-point lead into the break, the Huskies struggled to put UCLA away. As the third quarter wound down, the Bruins made a push, going on a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 12.

While the fourth quarter is typically run by the bench for UConn, UCLA kept fighting in the fourth quarter and made UConn earn its Elite Eight berth.

After a three from Kia Nurse pushed the lead to 20 with 6:15 remaining, the Huskies went cold from the floor. They failed to hit a field goal for the final 6:15 of the game, but held their lead with success on the foul line. The Bruins last rally simply ran out of time and UConn came away with the 15-point victory, the Huskies’ 110th in a row.

Napheesa Collier led the scoring efforts, posting her second double-double of the tournament with 27 points and 14 rebounds. Of those rebounds, six came on the offensive glass, which really helped out the occasionally struggling offense.

Gabby Williams had another productive day, scoring 17 while grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out six assists. She was everywhere for the Huskies and the Bruins often had no answer for her anywhere on the court.

While she is better-known for her passing, Saniya Chong chipped in 16 points in the victory effort. She went 3-of-5 from deep and now we know that if needed Chong can be a go-to scorer as well.

It certainly wasn’t UConn’s best performance, but the time away could have played a role. The Huskies started slowly in the AAC Tournament opener against Tulsa and again against Albany in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Huskies move on to face the 10-seed Oregon Ducks, who pulled off the upset of Maryland in the Bridgeport Region’s early game. The Ducks are one of the hottest teams in the nation and should not be overlooked because of their seed. The two teams will do battle for a trip to the Final Four on Monday.


Geno Auriemma, Gabby Williams, Napheesa Collier Postgame (starts at 20:59 mark):

Kia Nurse, Katie Lou Samuelson, Saniya Chong, Crystal Dangerfield, Gabby Williams, Napheesa Collier Postgame:

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

Video credit (Geno, Napheesa, Gabby): NCAA