Tuesday, December 6, 2022
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UConn, UCF win handily with defensive strain

Protection dominated within the first spherical of the NCAA Event Saturday, as each increased seeds received in Storrs.

UConn, the No. 2 seed, simply dealt with No. 15 Mercer, 83-38 within the first recreation, holding them to 23.2 % taking pictures and shutting them out within the third quarter. Within the second recreation, No. 6 UCF held No. 10 Florida to 30 % taking pictures, and received comfortably, 69-52.

No. 2 UConn 83, No. 15 Mercer 38

Dorka Juhasz prepares to go. UConn Athletics picture.

The Huskies led the primary recreation the entire manner, spreading the scoring amongst 10 gamers, dominating the boards 53-30, and forcing 21 turnovers.

The Bears have been down by 20 on the finish of the primary half, nevertheless it simply acquired worse. Scoring, rebounding, and help chief Amoria Neal-Tysor went to the ground on the 6:37 mark of the second interval, touchdown exhausting on her left arm. She by no means returned, and though Mercer performed UConn even from that time to the break, they got here out of halftime and not using a spark. The Huskies doubled their lead with a 20-0 third interval. The Bears are simply the second event group since 2016 to fail to attain in a whole quarter (Texas v. South Carolina, 2021).

Dorka Juhasz led UConn in vitality, and recorded a ten level, 10 rebound double-double.

“Dorka’s a aggressive child and I really like how exhausting she performs, coach Geno Auriemma stated. “It by no means surprises me how exhausting she works defensively, how exhausting she works rebounding the ball.”

“That’s in all probability been the largest contribution that she’s made to our group. The factors have been nice, yeah, however passing the ball, rebounding the ball, taking part in protection, I feel all these issues have been actually, actually strong for almost all of the 12 months. Extra so now, although.”

Paige Bueckers began her first recreation since getting back from damage. The sophomore contributed 12 factors (5-7 taking pictures, 2-2 on threes), 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and two steals in 25 minutes of play.

Christyn Williams and Caroline Ducharme have been the opposite Huskies in double figures, however they shot a poor 9-24 between them.

Total, UConn shot 44 % (5 under their common), however a superb 44 % from three. In addition they turned the ball over 16 occasions, yielding eight factors to Mercer.

“It takes slightly little bit of time in that first recreation,” Auriemma stated. “The primary half was sort of uneven and slightly bit disjointed in looking for that rhythm.”

“I believed we got here out within the second half and we performed exceptionally good protection in that third quarter and that acquired every little thing entering into the proper route and acquired us extra concerned offensively. And it was extra like what I count on to see and hopefully we’ll see much more of that Monday evening as a result of we’ll want much more of that for certain.”

Shannon Titus was the one Bear to attain in double figures, with 12. She added a group main 5 rebounds and 5 steals.

No. 6 UCF 69, No. 10 Florida 52

Brittney Smith elevates for a shot. UCF Athletics picture.

Within the second recreation, UCF held Florida to 30 %, forcing 16 turnovers and successful 69-52. The Gators stored the sport inside attain by outrebounding the Knights 24-16 within the first half, however nonetheless entered the locker room down 11.

Florida made it thrilling within the third interval by driving the ball into the tooth of the UCF protection, and transferring the ball higher facet to facet. They closed to inside 4 however couldn’t maintain the momentum. UCF regrouped and opened the lead again to 12 with an 8-0 run within the final three minutes.

The Gators by no means acquired nearer than 9 factors once more, finally dropping by 17.

Brittney Smith excelled for the Knights, scoring a profession excessive 26 factors on 11-17 taking pictures, and including 6 rebounds.

“Brittney is horrifying as a result of she doesn’t know that she’s that good, coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson stated. “Brittney doesn’t know she’s that athletic. Brittney doesn’t know she has that wingspan.”

“She’s acquired some low publish strikes, acquired some step-outs, he’s acquired good contact. She has no concept that she’s that particular.”

Masseny Kaba added 14 factors, six rebounds and 5 blocks for UCF, and Diamond Battles scored 18, with seven assists.

Nina Rickards led Florida with 17 factors on 7-13 taking pictures, and Zippy Broughton added 12 factors, eight boards and 6 assists.

It was UCF’s first NCAA event victory.

Monday’s matchup not more likely to be simple for the host

UConn has not misplaced within the first or second spherical of the event since 1993. UCF had by no means received any event recreation earlier than Saturday. The Huskies are 13-0 in opposition to the Knights all time, and they’re taking part in at house, the place they not often lose.

That doesn’t imply, nonetheless, that this can be a walk-over victory for UConn. UCF performed plenty of video games at Gampel pavilion through the Huskies’ AAC seasons, and they’re comfy taking part in there.

Within the final two conferences of the groups, each in 2020, the Knights misplaced to UConn by 12 and 9 factors, remarkably shut for the Huskies within the AAC.

4 UCF gamers have been a part of these two video games: Battles (11 factors mixed), Smith (14), Masseny Kaba (23), and Future Thomas (0).

Williams (8 pts.) and Olivia Nelson-Ododa (17 pts.) performed for the Huskies.

After all, neither group is very similar to these 2020 squads, regardless of the participant overlap.

This is likely one of the finest UConn defenses ever, in keeping with their coach.

“I feel it’s fairly uncommon, for as many younger gamers as now we have, that they need to be that good defensively,” he stated. “I feel Nika [Muhl] is a giant deal in all that. I feel when she’s not within the recreation our protection is just not the identical, and also you noticed it as we speak. The minute she enters the sport, issues change, after which individuals get caught up and now it’s contagious.”

“However each good group that’s going to be left standing within the NCAA event w might be going to be a extremely, actually good defensive group and if we wish us to be that group, then it must be nearly as good because it was as we speak and even higher.”

That features the Knights, who’re second within the nation in discipline objective proportion protection. (UConn is 14th). UCF has three double-digit scorers they usually have top in 6-3 Masseny and Smith. They’ve additionally unfold the offense round so much higher this season.

“Our protection is actually good as a result of it’s constant,” Abrahamson-Henderson stated. “You recognize, we don’t change. We don’t go zone, man, we don’t combine it up. We keep in our press.”

“Offense, I imply, this 12 months actually is our greatest offensive group for certain. All people is scoring. No person cares who will get credit score.”

The Huskies are nonetheless the favorites, as they’ve superior depth. They rebound higher than UCF, they usually have 9 gamers who can rating. Their protection just lately has been excellent, holding groups to a mean just below 40 factors within the final 9 video games.

This can simply be a battle. It is going to be a type of video games the place, if the Knights carry their A+ recreation and UConn brings its B- recreation , there could possibly be an upset.

It is going to actually be a recreation value watching, and a snapshot of the place the Huskies are transferring ahead. Assuming they try this. In the event that they don’t, it would depend among the many largest upsets in event historical past.

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