MINNEAPOLIS – With 11 seconds left and UConn stuck by two points, senior goalkeeper Kristen Williams I got to the free throw line. The referee threw the ball to Williams, Yusr took her usual dribble, bent her knees and directed the ball toward the bucket. Fell through the network. Same thing with the second
Loose shots gave UConn a four-point lead and sealed the Huskies’ 63-58 victory, sending them into their first National Championship game since 2016. For four consecutive NCAA tournaments, UConn lost in the Final Four. But on this fifth flight–the last one for an adult who’s never played in a National Championship game– Evina WestbrookAnd the Olivia Nelson Ododa And Williams was determined not to lose.
“You can’t come here as a senior, and I hope someone else wins it for you,” said UConn coach Geno Auriemma, who will play the No. 1 seed Huskies in South Carolina on Sunday (8 p.m. ET, ESPN). NCAA title.
Westbrook lit up his Husky early, and came off the bench in the second quarter to take his place High Edwardswho had just made her second mistake.
With Dorca Johas With his broken wrist, Westbrook was the next player on the post. After missing her first two shots, Westbrook spotted a 3rd corner and drilled it. I made three three-pointers in the first inning as all of the huskies advanced by one point in the first inning.
“Somehow, in a way, when you get into big games, you find a way to hit two or three of them,” Orima said. “And that happens every time we need her. I would say she was probably the most valuable player in the game (Friday).”
If Westbrook sets the tone in the second quarter, Nelson-Ododa and Williams take on that burden in the fourth — once they’re back on the field. They spent the last few minutes of the third on the bench.
“I think they’re starting to feel like that’s it. I’m never going back,” Orima said. “And when they came back, it was like two different people.”
Nelson Ododa started the quarter-finals with an old-fashioned three-pointer and two extra free throws. On UConn’s next acquisition, Williams fired a 3-point shot to extend Husky’s lead to six points. She had struggled offensively for most of the match, finishing 3-13 off the field all night, but that shot ignited the Husky and swayed the momentum.
“It’s last year,” freshman guard Nika Mohl He said. “They just want to win and we’re there to follow them.”
This senior class, along with the entire UConn team, has played through the ordeals for most of the season. The five losses in the regular season are the largest for the program since the 2004-05 season. The Huskies’ loss to Villanova was the program’s first loss in the conference since 2013. The loss to Georgia Tech – the first game played after a sophomore goalkeeper Big Bakers He fell with a tibial plateau fracture and meniscus tear – cutting UConn’s winning streak in 239 games against unranked opponents.
Auriemma was not shy about challenging the men of the upper class.
After UConn lost to Georgia Tech, a dejected Auriemma joined the press conference and gave a damning assessment of the state of the Huskies.
“I’ve been in a good habit over the years at improving players,” Auriemma said. “We have really good players who have graduated from high school, but they are getting better every year. Now, that’s not happening.”
UConn’s Paige Bueckers tips it over to Olivia Nelson-Ododa for a sturdy bucket plus the bug.
Led this chapter through the injuries and illnesses that plague UConn throughout the year. In addition to the Bakers knee injury, Mohle and a freshman Azzi Fd Both lost time with foot injuries. student Caroline DucharmeNelson Ododa and Williams also missed matches. Wehch lost to injury Monday.
With UConn entering the championship game, with Auriemma setting a record 11-0, these problems seem out of sight. If first graders have anything to say about it, they have the juice to get their hands on when it matters most.
“They did exactly what I expected them to do every night,” Orima said. “I wish they had another night.”
“Alcohol enthusiast. Twitter ninja. Tv lover. Falls down a lot. Hipster-friendly coffee geek.”