No. 5 UConn vs. No. 10 NC State, Elite Eight Game Ramatch

These two teams battled it out in the very first game of double overtime in the Elite Eight of the women’s NCAA tournament. UConn’s Final Four series was at stake while the Wolfpack attempted to return to the national semifinals for the first time since 1998. T

The game had it all: clutch plays, a heartbreaking and gruesome season-ending injury, and the sheer power of one player’s drive to win.

Paige Bueckers scored 15 of her 27 points after regulation to lead UConn to a 91-87 victory and secure the Huskies’ trip back to their home state of Minnesota for the program’s 14th-Just Final Four.

The UConn and NC State teams meeting this Sunday are different than those who met in Bridgeport eight months ago. The Huskies have lost their three seniors (Evina Westbrook, Christyn Williams and Olivia Nelson-Ododa) and will be without Buckers for the year as she continues to recover from an offseason ACL injury.

NC State is without former star center Elissa Cunane, who was drafted 17th overall by the Seattle Storm in the 2022 WNBA draft.

A second consecutive Top 10 win for UConn, who defeated No. 3 Texas on Monday, would be an early sign that the Huskies may have found their groove at playing without Bueckers.

Azzi does Azzi things

Azzi Fudd has had one of the best starts in UConn history, if not the best. The sophomore guard on Monday equaled Diana Taurasi’s record for most points against a top-five opponent by a UConn player when Fudd scored 32 against No. 3 Texas. Her 58 points in UConn’s first two games this year is the most for any Husky to start a season.

Fudd was almost unstoppable in the second half against the Longhorns, scoring 17 of UConn’s 20 points in the fourth quarter. UConn coach Geno Auriemma called it an “All-American” and “Player of the Year” performance.

Production in front of the yard

The Huskies’ forecourt struggled to get going on Monday. Junior Aaliyah Edwards only got her shot down midway through the second quarter, having already been called out for two personal fouls, while Dorka Juhász (who finished 2 of 8 from the floor) had two turnovers in the first quarter.

With NC State averaging 50.5 rebounds per game (10 more than UConn), the Huskies’ bigs need to be more aggressive and find quicker ways to affect the game when their shots aren’t falling.

Limited bank

Three other players finished in double figures outside of Fudd on Monday. Aubrey Griffin came off the bench to score 14 points in 26 minutes, followed by Lou Lopez Senechal’s 12 points in 14 minutes. However, due to foul problems (five of the eight Huskies who played Monday ended with three or more fouls), Fudd, Juhász and Nika Mühl each had to play 38 minutes.

With such a limited bench, especially in backcourt, the Huskies can’t afford for a player to foul early. Also, with Caroline Ducharme not yet hitting her normal minutes, the team will need to control their physicality and avoid fouls to give the players some breathing room.

Get to know NC State

The Wolfpack are unbeaten at the start of the season, having last beat Charlotte 96-48 on Thursday, behind 15 points from Madison Hayes and Jada Boyd. NC State started the year with an 82-45 win over Quinnipiac before picking up wins over both Elon and Mount St. Mary’s.

UConn is 7-2 all time against NC State. This year’s game in Hartford marks the first game in the program’s recent home-and-home series. The next season, the huskies travel to Raleigh, North Carolina.

No. 10 NC State at No. 5 UConn

When: Sunday, 1 p.m

Where: XL center

Records: UConn (2-0, Big East), NC State (4-0, ACC)

TV: FS1

Radio: UConn Sports Network, 97.9 FM-ESPN Hartford, WAVZ-New Haven (1300hrs), WICC-Brideport (600hrs), WINE-Danbury (940hrs), WGCH-Greenwich (1490hrs), WATR-Waterbury (1320hrs)

POSSIBLE STARTERS:

UConn

Player Position PPG.

Azzi Fudd G.29.0

Dorka Juhasz F. 10.0

Aaliyah Edwards F12.5

Nika Mühl G. 4.5

Lou Lopez Senechal G./F. 14.5

NC state

Player Position PPG.

Diamond Johnson G 12.5

Madison Hayes G. 11.5

Jada Boyd F.11.3

Jakia Turner-Brown W. 8.3

Camille Hobby C.8.0

[email protected] @maggie_vanoni

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