The Duke BlueDevils were defeated in the Sweet 16

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PORTLAND, Oregon. Coach Geno Auriemma, an 11-time national champion, wasn’t sure his UConn Huskies had much of a chance to go far in March earlier in the season.
By the end of the season, the team had lost six important players to injury.
By December. 3. They had already lost three games in their nonconference schedule.
Although the Huskies’ 53-45 victory over 7-seed Duke on Saturday was far from pretty, it was enough to punch their ticket to the Elite Eight and surpass both Auriemma’s prior expectations and last year’s shocking Sweet 16 exit.
Following the victory, Auriemma remarked, “Childbirth is a miracle.”.
“We making it to the Sweet 16 this season was something I believed would never happen.
Currently, we find ourselves in the final eight.
You can’t make this s— up, really. “.”.
With its 28th overall program appearance, UConn’s regional final appearance ties Tennessee’s record.
On Monday at 9 p.m., the third-seeded Huskies will take on the top-seeded USC Trojans. m.
ET for a trip to Cleveland’s Final Four.
While lead for almost 37 minutes, UConn dominated the majority of Saturday’s defensive struggle.
The second-fewest points scored in an NCAA tournament game in the history of both programs are shared by the Huskies with 53 and Duke with 45.
UConn led 23–13 at the half.
According to Auriemma, Duke has an excellent defense.
They’re very good at taking away some of your strengths and forcing you to perform in plays that aren’t always prewritten.
Great reading must be your forte.
And at first, it was really difficult because, in my opinion, we should have had thirty points at halftime, but you felt like they only had thirteen.
It was going to be difficult to score tonight on both ends, though.
Both we and they would find it difficult to score against each other. “.
Paige Bueckers, the 2021 national player of the year, however, continued to have a stellar postseason for UConn, finishing with 24 points.
Currently tied for the longest streak in her career, it marked her sixth consecutive game with at least 20 points.
Three steals, two blocks, and five rebounds were also added.
In her three seasons as a member of the Huskies, Bueckers has had the opportunity to guide the team to the Final Four.
UConn’s 14-year run of Final Four appearances came to an end last year when Ohio State upset them in the Sweet 16, keeping Bueckers out of the game due to an ACL injury.
The Huskies’ lead of 20 points at the end of the third quarter was reduced to five points in the last two minutes of play by Duke twice in the fourth quarter, which made things interesting.
“We were exercising when we kind of took a deep breath and decided to have a cigarette, and then we didn’t feel like exercising anymore,” Auriemma said. “.
With a little over a minute remaining, forward Aaliyah Edwards (who was playing with four fouls at the time) made a jumper, and both Bueckers and Stevens came up with huge defensive rebounds. After the Blue Devils made their run, UConn made just enough plays to tie the game.
Edwards finished with 12 points for UConn, as did rookie guard KK Arnold.
In reference to the competition, Auriemma remarked, “You never know what the path ahead of you will look like.”.
The children you need are those who can create the play when it needs to be created, and we’ve done that in the past two games. “.
Despite allowing the Blue Devils to tie the game, UConn held Duke to 18 of 55 shots (4 of 19 from three) and forced 23 turnovers in the process, much to Auriemma’s dismay.
Freshman Oluchi Okananwa led Duke in scoring with 15 points off the bench, while Reigan Richardson, the Blue Devils’ tournament leading scorer, was limited to just 5-for-15 from the field.
“Our offensive system was disjointed and uncoordinated, resulting in a lack of efficiency and sufficient scoring opportunities until the end,” stated Kara Lawson, the coach of Duke.
Due to injuries, UConn has relied on a seven-player rotation for the majority of this year; on Saturday, they only used six.
For the Huskies, it wasn’t meant to be like this as the preseason No.
2 squad, but injuries have kept them without Azzi Fudd, Aubrey Griffin, Caroline Ducharme, and two more players since the middle of November.
They were defeated 4-3 by Texas on December after Fudd and Ducharme were sidelined in the first month of the season. 3.
“I felt that our team’s vibe, our play, and our mojo were all really depressing,” Auriemma remarked.
The night after the Longhorns game, Auriemma started a different starting lineup with Ashlynn Shade, Nika Muhl, and Bueckers as the three point guards.
UConn began to fit things together with the four-guard lineup, building a significant winning streak and going undefeated in Big East regular-season and tournament play.
“I.
NEUTRAL

Portland, Oregon. Earlier in the season, UConn Huskies coach Geno Auriemma, an 11-time national champion, didn’t think his team had much of a chance to go far in March. Several important players had been lost to injury by the end of the season for the team. By December. After three nonconference games, they had already lost three of them.

The Huskies defeated both Auriemma’s previous expectations and last year’s shocking Sweet 16 exit with a 53-45 victory that punched their ticket to the Elite Eight. Saturday’s Sweet 16 matchup against 7-seed Duke was far from visually appealing.

Auriemma declared following the victory, “Childbirth is a miracle.”. “Weathering us to the Sweet 16 this season would be a miracle, I thought earlier. And now, here we are, in the last eight. You really can’t make this s— up. “.

With its 28th overall program appearance, UConn’s regional final appearance ties Tennessee’s record.

The No. On Monday at 9 p.m., the #3-seeded Huskies will take on the #1-seeded USC Trojans. M. ET to secure a Cleveland Final Four berth.

While lead for almost 37 minutes, UConn dominated the majority of Saturday’s defensive struggle. In the annals of their respective programs, the Huskies’ 53 points and Duke’s 45 points are tied for the second-fewest points scored in an NCAA tournament game. UConn led 23–13 at halftime.

Duke has an excellent defensive unit, according to Auriemma. They are very good at taking away some of your strengths and forcing you to perform in plays that aren’t always prewritten. You must produce excellent reading. I thought we should have had thirty points at halftime, but you felt like they only had thirteen, so it was really difficult at first.

“However, scoring was going to be difficult tonight on both ends. Both us and them would find it difficult to score, and neither one of us would have an easy time doing so. “.

However, 2021 national player of the year Paige Bueckers, who finished with 24 points, continued to shine for UConn throughout the postseason. She tied the record for the longest streak in her career with six straight games with at least 20 points. In addition, she had three steals, two blocks, and five rebounds.

In her three seasons as a member of the Huskies, Bueckers has had the opportunity to guide the team to the Final Four. Due to Bueckers’ ACL injury last year, UConn’s season came to an abrupt end when Ohio State upset them in the Sweet 16, ending the program’s 14-year run of Final Four appearances.

On Saturday, things became interesting in the fourth quarter as Duke twice reduced a 20-point lead the Huskies had built late in the third quarter to five points in the last two minutes.

“We were exercising when we kind of took a deep breath and decided to have a cigarette, and then we didn’t feel like exercising anymore,” Auriemma said. “.”.

With just over a minute remaining, forward Aaliyah Edwards (who was playing with four fouls at the time) made a jumper, Bueckers made crucial free throws, and both players pulled down huge defensive rebounds to keep the Blue Devils at bay. For UConn, guards KK Arnold and Edwards both finished with 12 points.

“No matter where you’re heading, you never know what the road ahead will hold,” Auriemma said during the competition. The children you need are those who can create the play when it needs to be created, and we’ve done that in the past two games. “.

Even though Auriemma’s team let the Blue Devils back into the game, UConn was still able to limit Duke to 18 of 55 shots (4 of 19 from three) and force 23 turnovers in the game. Freshman Oluchi Okananwa led Duke in scoring with 15 points off the bench, while Reigan Richardson, the Blue Devils’ tournament leading scorer, was limited to just 5-for-15 from the field.

Duke coach Kara Lawson stated, “We just weren’t able to, until late, get enough points on the board. We were out of sorts and out of rhythm on the offensive end.”.

Due to injuries, UConn has relied on a seven-player rotation for the majority of this year; on Saturday, they only used six. This was not how the Huskies were supposed to start the preseason as the No. Azzi Fudd, Aubrey Griffin, Caroline Ducharme, and two more players have been sidelined for the season due to injuries since the middle of November. They were down 4-3 when Texas defeated them on December after Fudd and Ducharme were injured in the first month of the season. 3.

“I felt that our team’s vibe, our play, and our mojo were all really depressing,” Auriemma remarked.

The night after the Longhorns game, Auriemma started a different starting lineup with Ashlynn Shade, Nika Muhl, and Bueckers as the three point guards. After assembling a four-guard lineup, UConn was able to go undefeated in both the regular season and tournament of the Big East and build a significant winning streak.

“We thought, ‘All right, if we can keep improving on this, I think we got something here,'” Auriemma remarked after the team’s 13-game winning streak.

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