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AAC Tournament semifinals: UConn women’s basketball defeats USF, 79-38

The Huskies advance to the AAC title game for the seventh year in a row.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn women’s basketball dispatched the USF Bulls 79-38 in the semifinals of the AAC Tournament to advance to the championship game on Monday.

However, the victory was overshadowed by an apparent elbow injury to Kyla Irwin. The senior was pushed down from behind going for an offensive rebound and hit the floor hard. Medical personnel immediately took her into the locker room, where she did not return.

After the game, head coach Geno Auriemma said Irwin was being taken to get x-rays after the game and that the injury is “serious,” but the full extent is still unknown.

“Obviously we don’t right now exactly,” head coach Geno Auriemma said after the game. “She’s on her way to get some x-rays, we’ll know more. But she landed directly on it. So it was a really hard fall and obviously it’s serious. How serious? I don’t know yet.”

The senior also broke her finger a few days ago in practice and has been dealing with a foot issue that will require surgery after the season, Auriemma said postgame.

Megan Walker led all scorers with 21 points, her fifth time reaching the 20-point mark in the last six games. Christyn Williams finished with 15 points on 5-9 shooting while Crystal Dangerfield totaled 13 points. For just the second time this season, Aubrey Griffin reached double-figures in consecutive games with 10 points.

UConn’s defense owned USF from the outset, holding the Bulls to just a single basket in the first quarter on 1-13 shooting. The Huskies weren’t exactly lighting it up on offense either, but they pushed though some early struggles to string together an 11-0 run and take a 16-3 lead.

After a quiet first quarter with just two points, Walker came to life in the second with a triple followed by a pair of free throws. She racked up 10 points in the quarter to take a team-high 12 points into the locker room.

But while Walker opened the period for UConn, Aubrey Griffin carried the Huskies to the half. Despite a career night on Saturday, she didn’t enter the game until the 7:39 mark in the second quarter. It took Griffin a few minutes to settle in but once she did, the freshman scored eight of UConn’s final 11 points in the second quarter to help put the Huskies ahead 38-17 at the break.

USF couldn’t find any answers to its offensive issues in the locker room at halftime. The Bulls missed their first nine shots of the third quarter and UConn didn’t allow a point under just 3:49 remained in the period. Another run, this time 13-0, helped the Huskies push the lead over 30 points and put the game away for good.

UConn held USF to just 12-58 from the floor (21 percent) — tied for the fewest baskets the Huskies have allowed in a game this season. UConn also forced 19 turnovers which it turned into 23 points while USF did not score a single point on any of the Huskies’ eight turnovers.

UConn improves to 138-0 all-time in AAC play and 28-3 on the season. The Bulls have never beaten the Huskies in 32 tries.

Next, UConn will face Cincinnati in the championship game of the AAC Tournament on Monday night at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.