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NCAA Tournament Second Round: UConn women’s basketball shreds Syracuse, 83-47

Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Aaliyah Edwards took over as the Huskies advance to their 27th straight Sweet Sixteen.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Syracuse at Connecticut Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

UConn women’s basketball is heading to its 27th consecutive Sweet Sixteen after shredding the 8-seed Syracuse Orange in the round of 32, 83-47.

Nika Muhl did not play for the Huskies after spraining her ankle in UConn’s first round win over High Point. In her place, Aaliyah Edwards got the start and dominated with 19 points on a perfect 5-5 shooting with five rebounds and four assists while taking 12 free throws. Olivia Nelson-Ododa had a strong night in the paint as well with 17 points and eight rebounds.

Paige Bueckers led the team with 20 points and added five rebounds, four assists and three steals while Christyn Williams had 11 points and Aubrey Griffin had nine.

UConn’s defense shut down Syracuse star Tiana Mangakahia, holding her to just seven points. Overall, the Orange went 3-15 from beyond the arc and made just 28.1 of their shots.

Early on, the Huskies struggled with Syracuse’s 2-3 zone and made just two of its first six baskets with three turnovers mixed in. Edwards scored UConn’s first six points and was responsible for its only two baskets in the opening six minutes.

Williams provided the Huskies with an unlikely spark when she banked in a deep 3-pointer to beat the shot clock. That spurred UConn to an 11-2 run which stretched its lead to nine points.

Syracuse battled back to get the gap back down to two points but then went cold. The Orange didn’t score for the next three minutes and missed eight consecutive shots. In that time, UConn built its lead back to eight points.

Though Syracuse eventually broke out of its slump, it only made four baskets in the entire second quarter as the Huskies took over and went into the locker room with a 15-point lead — their largest of the game to that point.

UConn carried its dominant play through halftime into the third quarter. After struggling with the Orange’s zone early, the Huskies shredded it in the second half. Nelson-Ododa couldn’t be stopped with 13 points in the third quarter alone and helped UConn own a 23-9 advantage in the period to push its lead to 29.

The fourth quarter featured little drama as the Huskies ran away with the 36-point victory.

Next, UConn will face freshman sensation Caitlin Clark and the 5-seed Iowa Hawkeyes in the Sweet Sixteen. The Huskies will have their head coach back on the sideline for that game as Geno Auriemma is scheduled to fly into San Antonio on Wednesday, according to ESPN.