How to watch
When: Sunday, March 7, 3:00 p.m.
Where: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT
Stream: Fox Sports Go (log-in required)
Radio: UConn Sports Network (97.9 ESPN and affiliates)
Record: 15-5 (9-5 Big East)
Location: Mohegan Sun
Head coach: Denise Dillon (first season)
How they got here
UConn handled St. John’s 77-41 behind a game-high 17 points from Paige Bueckers and a double-double from Olivia Nelson-Ododa.
Villanova needed overtime to take down DePaul, 78-72. The Wildcats took a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter but made just three baskets in the final 10 minutes as the Blue Demons stormed back and forced the extra period with a pair of free throws in the final 20 seconds. Maddy Siegrist, Villanova’s star player, failed to score in the fourth quarter but came back with 10 points in overtime to secure the win.
UConn and Villanova only played once in the regular season after their Jan. 16 matchup was postponed and never rescheduled. In just their fifth game of the year, the Huskies earned a 90-53 win over the Wildcats on the road.
UConn’s starters scored all but 14 points with Aubrey Griffin and Mir McLean both contributing seven points each. Neither Aaliyah Edwards and Nika Muhl played due to ankle injuries.
Siegrist went into halftime with 12 points but managed just three points the rest of the way as part of a 6-22 night from the field.
Nika Muhl’s status for the semifinals is up in the air after she sprained her left ankle in Saturday’s game and did not return.
“Nika is a pretty tough kid, as tough as they come,” Auriemma said. “So if I were to bet...Nika is going to give it every opportunity overnight and then she’s going to play. And if she doesn’t play it’s because it’s serious. So we’ll know a little bit later.”
UPDATE: UConn tweeted a video of Muhl participating in shootaround on Sunday morning, a positive sign for her availability against Villanova.
Good morning! pic.twitter.com/jOllWyEV0D— UConn Women’s Basketball (@UConnWBB) March 7, 2021
Evina Westbrook also hobbled off the court at one point and got her left ankle taped by the team trainer and then jogged behind the bench. She eventually returned for 14 minutes the rest of the game.
UConn’s “conditional depth”
By the numbers, the Huskies have one of their deepest squads in recent memory. Eight players averaged over 15 minutes per game and if McLean is in the mix, that gives Auriemma four quality options off the bench to pair with the five starters — theoretically, at least. In practice, it’s not that simple.
“We feel like we have conditional depth,” the coach said. “Sometimes it looks like, ‘Why don’t you play them more?’ And other times it looks like there’s a big, huge drop-off between our first five and then some of our next group.”