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Sweet 16: UConn women’s basketball defeats No. 3 Indiana, 75-58

The Huskies started the second half on a 16-0 run and never looked back.

UConn women’s basketball is heading to its 16th Elite Eight after defeating the 3-seed Indiana Hoosiers in the Sweet 16, 75-58. The Huskies opened the second half on a 16-0 run to take a 20-point lead and never let Indiana get back within single-digits.

Paige Bueckers had one of her best games since returning from injury and tied Christyn Williams with a team-high 15 points. Olivia Nelson-Ododa recorded a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds while Aaliyah Edwards had nine points and 10 rebounds. Azzi Fudd dropped 13 points despite hitting just 3-of-11 from the field.

UConn dominated the glass, out-rebounding the Hoosiers 39-27 and turning 15 offensive rebounds into 14 second chance points. While Indiana finished with a better shooting percentage (48% to the Huskies’ 46%), UConn took 19 more shots on the day.

The Huskies started slow on both ends of the floor, giving up baskets on Indiana’s first two possessions while turning the ball over on three of their four times up the court. Still, they stayed close and got within one possession five times in the first seven minutes but just couldn’t close the gap.

Geno Auriemma started to dip into his bench at the end of the first quarter and after some trial and error, finally found a lineup combination that clicked. UConn went with four guards — Fudd, Nika Mühl, Evina Westbrook and Williams — and left Nelson-Ododa as the only big in the game. That group helped the Huskies close the first quarter on an 8-0 run and take their first lead of the contest.

As the second began, Ali Patberg single-handedly kept Indiana in the game. She drilled a three to tie the game, though UConn answered with an 6-0 run. Patberg again came back with another 3-pointer and even when Mühl responded with one of her own, Patberg scored again.

While the Huskies built their lead to as many as nine, Indiana scored seven of the final nine points of the half. UConn went into the locker room up just four, 37-33.

After they failed to score in the first 2:35 of the first half, the Huskies ripped off a 9-0 run in the first 2:21 of the second half to take their largest lead of the day to that point, 46-33. That prompted Indiana to take a timeout, though that only made things worse. Out of the break, the Hoosiers turned the ball over on their next three possessions, which extended UConn’s run to 16-0.

After that, the Huskies were out-scored 13-6 over the remainder of the third period but that only cut their lead down to 13 entering the final 10 minutes. The offensive struggles continued for UConn into the fourth quarter as it went four minutes between baskets and totaled just four points by the final media timeout.

Ultimately, Indiana couldn’t score enough to put a dent in the Huskies’ advantage. The Hoosiers never got closer than 12 and UConn used a final run — this time, 6-0 — to put the game away for good. The Huskies earned the 17-point victory to advance to the Elite Eight for the 27th time in program history.

Next, UConn will battle with top-seeded NC State with a trip to the Final Four on the line. Tip-off is set for Monday at 7 p.m. from Total Mortgage Arena in Bridgeport.