Highlights from the NCAA championship game


A victory against South Carolina in Sunday night’s NCAA championship game would have given the Huskies 12 national titles and sole possession of the record they share with the UCLA men’s basketball team. It was not meant to be this year. 

South Carolina beat UConn 64-49 Sunday night to win their second national championship.

What’s next for the Huskies?

Speaking of next year, we might as well quickly address that. No doubt, the moment is painful for UConn and the seniors that won’t be here next year – Christyn Williams, Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Evina Westbrook. They’ll be able to look back at successful careers for one of the most successful program in women’s college basketball history. Their legacy will be decided years from now, of course. In the present moment, people will be quick to point out their inability to win a national championship. Is that the ultimate judgement? It depends who is asked.

Next year, the Huskies return a wildly talented team and will add depth to the frontcourt with a couple of talented freshmen. Paige Bueckers, Azzi Fudd, Aliyah Edwards and others will all be a year older, wiser, strong and, frankly, better. This UConn team – if they stay healthy – isnt’t going anywhere. Start thinking about the Final Four now (in Dallas) because this team can easily be pictured headed back there.

What went wrong for UConn?

There’s a lot that went wrong for UConn in this game, but the Huskies never completely faded like they could have.

They key stat? Rebounds. You can’t win a game when the opponent doubles your rebounds. The other? Free throws. UConn had only 4 attempts from the free throw line. South Carolina had 26, sinking 17. Another? UConn had 5 second chance points to South Carolina’s 22.

UConn struggled on and off all night finding good shots and against a tough defense. Oddly enough, they shot better than South Carolina, but UConn just came up short in getting their hands on the ball enough. It’s a tough way to lose, but it also makes it very clear what they need to do better next season.

UConn loses to South Carolina

UConn will have to wait at least another year for a 12th national championship. The Huskies fall to South Carolina 64-49. For the Gamecocks, it’s their second national title, both under Dawn Staley.

It was clear from the outset that South Carolina was the stronger team and was clearly able to execute their gameplan. UConn was a good team this season that turned great down the stretch. They overcame the injuries, battled some tough teams in the tournament, won in double overtime in the Elite 8, but came up just short of the fairytale ending.

South Carolina is pulling away from UConn 

Things aren’t looking good for UConn as it appears an incredible run for the Huskies is coming to an end. Coach Geno Auriemma said over the weekend it would be a “magical” year if UConn won this game, but that the magic would still be there if they lost. They overcame more than most teams to get to this point.

UConn is running out of time

Just over 3 minutes left with South Carolina holding a 10-point lead. The Huskies are at their best when they play their own pace. With not much time left, however, they’re going to have to rush some shots and see what they can do to get quick, open looks.

Few coaches show as much emotion on the sidelines as UConn’s Geno Auriemma. ESPN showed him, head down, after Aliyah Boston was fouled there. Was he upset about the foul or perhaps coming to grips with the fact the Huskies may not come up on the winning end this year? Things aren’t looking good for the Huskies with just 5 minutes left.

Huskies lacking physicality? 

Hearst Connecticut UConn men’s beat writer Dave Borges makes a good point on Twitter. UConn has had plenty more success than Gonzaga, historically, but in the last few years the Huskies have struggled against physical teams. Since the Breanna Stewart years, the Huskies have fallen or at least struggled against teams able to push the Huskies around.

South Carolina starts fourth quarter strong

This has not been a good start to the fourth quarter for UConn. The Huskies needed to get a couple of baskets early in the period, but instead it’s been the Gamecocks with the scoring, now holding an 11-point advantage. If the Huskies can’t get something going out of this timeout, UConn fans will have to wait at least another year for a 12th national championship.

UConn down 46-37 entering fourth quarter

Head coach Geno Auriemma of the Connecticut Huskies wipes his face as they play the South Carolina Gamecocks during the championship game of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament at Target Center on April 3, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

Head coach Geno Auriemma of the Connecticut Huskies wipes his face as they play the South Carolina Gamecocks during the championship game of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at Target Center on April 3, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

Ben Solomon/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

At the end of the third quarter, UConn is down 46-37. It’s still a long way to go for the Huskies, who have shown in spurts that they can hang with South Carolina. That 10-0 run is keeping UConn in the game. The only way to win this is to have another similar run. Destanni Henderson has looked great for South Carolina all night, up to 16 points. She’s also flustered the Huskies on defense.

The Huskies deserve some credit for keeping Aliyah Boston under control. She does have 9 rebounds at the end of the third quarter, but it could be worse. She has 8 points on 3 for 7 shooting. She’s turned the ball over 3 times and UConn has collapsed on her quite often throughout the game.

Huskies on a run

That’s how to start closing the gap. Back-to-back 3 pointers from Caroline Ducharme and Evina Westbrook pull the Huskies to within 6 points following a 10-0 run. The Huskies hadn’t hit a 3-point shot until then. Maybe those weren’t the players we were expecting to step up, but UConn will gladly take it.

The seniors have been mostly quiet

It was UConn’s seniors that showed up in big spots Friday night in the Final Four game against Stanford. Tonight? Not so much. Olivia Nelson-Odda has 4 points, 1 rebound and 3 turnovers. Christyn Williams had played 15 minutes and has 0 points, 0 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 fouls. Evina Westbrook has 4 points, but has added 4 rebounds.

Huskies start second half with scoreless streak

UConn has felt competitive in the second half, but it took nearly five minutes for the Huskies to score their first basket in the third quarter. South Carolina came out of the locker room with a concerted effort to shut the Huskies down.

Paige Bueckers still leads the Huskies with 11 points and has looked good. The rest of the team? Not so much. No player has more than 4 points and Azzi Fudd and Christyn Williams remain scoreless.

Azzi Fudd on the floor to start the second half


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Anna C. Knight

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