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Sweet Sixteen: UConn women’s basketball takes down Iowa, 92-72

The Huskies advance to the Elite Eight thanks to one of its best offensive performances of the season.

UConn v Iowa Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

UConn women’s basketball advances to its 15th straight Elite Eight after defeating the 5-seed Iowa Hawkeyes, 92-72. Christyn Williams had a big day and the Huskies were able to keep Iowa’s superstar Caitlin Clark mostly in check.

UConn put on an offensive clinic, assisting on 30 of its 40 baskets as four starters scored 17 points or more. The Huskies also dominated in the paint, out-rebounding the Hawkeyes 42-25 while scoring 14 second-chance points on 15 offensive rebounds. Exactly half of UConn’s points (46) came in the paint and it also shot 10-23 (43%) from 3-point range.

Williams had arguably the best performance of her career, scoring 27 points on 12-23 shooting. She was also tasked with defending Clark and limited her to 21 points — 12 of which came in the third quarter — on 7-21 shooting.

While Paige Bueckers and Clark dominated the headlines coming in, Aaliyah Edwards stole the show early on with six of UConn’s first eight points. She helped stabilize the Huskies, who made just two of their first nine shots in a frenzied first quarter.

Williams then caught fire, scoring nine straight points en route to 18 in the first half. She also made life miserable for Clark on the other end of the floor, holding the freshmen sensation to seven points on 2-11 shooting in the first 20 minutes.

Iowa kept up with UConn in the early going thanks to four 3-pointers but the Huskies gained some distance in the second quarter. The Hawkeyes couldn’t string together baskets and its defense remained a liability as UConn slowly built its lead from eight points to 14 at the half.

Out of the break, the two teams traded runs in the third. The Hawkeyes jumped out on a 10-4 spurt to get back within single digits but UConn quickly responded with 10 of the next 13 points. Iowa then scored seven straight points, only for the Huskies to match that with seven points of their own. While UConn couldn’t pull away, it kept the Hawkeyes at arms-length and went into the fourth quarter up 11.

Iowa got within single-digits twice in the final quarter but Bueckers answered with a 3-pointer each time to stop the comeback bid. The Huskies then ripped off a 9-0 run to go up 19 with less than a minute to play. Bueckers finished with 18 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists.

Evina Westbrook came tantalizingly close to a triple-double with 17 points, 10 assists, and nine rebounds in an inspired performance. Iowa had no answer for UConn’s bigs. Olivia Nelson-Ododa grabbed 11 rebounds and also dished seven assists while Edwards finished with 18 points on 9-11 shooting.

The Huskies will face Baylor in the Elite Eight on Monday, Mar. 29 at 7 p.m.