By Arnie Leshin
Well, well, in came March Madness and out came the University of Connecticut women with what they do best.
This overwhelming and somewhat surprise sweep of Georgetown, 69-39, Marquette, 81-52, and now picking up their 20th conference title, this one in the Big East, the others in the Atlantic American, by putting a 67-56 cap on Villanova Saturday afternoon.
That added up to a grand total of 217 points for the Huskies and 147 allowed. It upped their overall record to 28-5 and the possibility of another jump down in the top 25 where Monday’s rankings had them go from No. 9 to No. 7.
Now it could take another step down as UConn tries to get within perhaps the 4-5 national seed. Coming into the Big East tourney, it wasn’t playing well, in fact in its last eight starts had not won a game by more than 8 points, and it was a herd of turnovers as a big factor.
But what a compete turnover.
Said Auriemma: “Well, you know, it’s March, they’re into March Madness, and have called on what they are capable of doing. We have more balance now with Azzi (Fudd) back, playing a lot better on offense and defense, and it looks good.”
Yup, sure does, and that final score in the finals against Villanova wasn’t exactly the way it went. Doing a masterful job on the Wildcats’ Maddy Siegrist, the leading scorer in the country, The Huskies turned a 33-24 halftime lead into an increase of 60-39 after three quarters.
They shot well from the field, 27-55, were 4-for-13 from beyond the arc, took down 37 rebounds and handed out 16 assists.
As for the 6-2 senior forward Siegrist, she had been averaging 25.4 per game, but she could manage only 22 this time on 9-for-21 shooting from the floor and 1-of-4 from the 3. She did have nine boards.
Second leading Nova scorer, senior Lucy Olsen, turned in only six points and was a dismal 4-for-20 from the field and 1-for-9 from 3-point range.
But most everything dropped in for
UConn at Mohican Sun Arena in Uncasville before a huge supportive crowd.
Huskies’ junior forward Aaliyah Edwards, named the Most Valuable Player, tallied 20 points, brought down 14 rebounds for a double-double, and dished out four assists.
Graduate senior Dorka Juhasz also had a double-double with 16 points and 11 boards.
Sophomore guard Azzi Fudd had her best game since being sidelined for three months after a knee injury, tossing in 11 points in her third contest back. She was 3-for-7 from the 3.
Senior guard Lou Lopez Senchal scored 14 while making good on 5-of-8 tries from outside and converting 4-of-4 free throws.
Junior point guard Niki Muhl, maybe the best in the land at that position, tossed in five points, took down six rebounds, and gave out eight assists.
There, a job well done at just the time to do it. Now comes the selection committee announcement Sunday to see where UConn goes next.