116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Geno Auriemma was right. So was Lisa Bluder.
This wasn't Caitlin Clark vs. Paige Bueckers. It was Connecticut's inside game, scoring at will and dominating on both ends.
The top-ranked Huskies crashed the glass early, pulled away late and sidelined Iowa, 92-72, in an NCAA women's basketball tournament regional semifinal Saturday at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
'Offensive rebounds really hurt us,” said Bluder, the Hawkeyes' coach. 'We didn't box out, and that's been a theme at times this season.”
UConn (27-1) owned a 42-25 rebounding advantage, including 26-12 in the first half as the Huskies ran to a 49-35 halftime lead. That storyline helped send the Huskies to the Elite Eight for the 15th consecutive tournament; they'll face No. 5 Baylor (28-2) in a regional final at 6 or 8 p.m. Monday, with the winner advancing to the Final Four.
Baylor outlasted Michigan in overtime.
'We played great team basketball today,” said UConn's Christy Williams, who scored a game-high 27 points. 'We stayed aggressive the entire game. We drove the lane, and if somebody else was open, we got it to them.”
The Huskies finished with 30 assists.
Iowa (20-10) had its moments, and was still in contention at 80-70 when McKenna Warnock scored on a drive with 6:03 left. But the Hawkeyes went scoreless for more than five minutes as the Huskies pulled away.
'The (final) score doesn't indicate how the game went,” Clark said. 'It kind of ballooned at the end. If we clean up a few things, we're right there.
'We're so young ... and we're so close.”
The game was ballyhooed, both nationally and locally, as a showcase between Clark and Bueckers, considered the top two freshmen in the nation.
Clark was 7 of 21 from the floor and finished with 21 points. Bueckers posted 18 points, nine rebounds and eight assists for the Huskies.
Afterward, Auriemma summoned Clark for a quick word.
'He told me I was crazy good, and that it was a shame that so much pressure was placed on Paige and me,” Clark said. 'I could feel the pressure. I took a few forced shots.”
If the Clark-Bueckers matchup was a stalemate, the Huskies' length was the story.
In addition to her 27 points, Williams drew much of the defensive work against Clark, and didn't allow her much space to operate. Six-foot-5 Olivia Nelson-Ododa grabbed 11 rebounds. Six-foot guard Evina Westbrook (17 points, nine rebounds, 10 assists) nearly completed a triple-double.
Iowa hung around for a while and trailed just 22-18 after one quarter. But the Huskies asserted themselves in the paint and on the glass, pulling away steadily to a 14-point halftime advantage.
The Hawkeyes got within eight twice in the third quarter, but both times, UConn surged back and stretched the margin to 15.
Iowa closed within 74-65 and 77-68, but Bueckers answered both threats with a 3-pointer.
Warnock added 20 points for the Hawkeyes, Monika Czinano 14 and Gabbie Marshall 12.
Of the final 32 teams standing in the NCAA, UConn returns the most (100 percent of its scoring), Iowa the second-most (98.1 percent) for 2021-22.
'We're an extremely young team, and we will be back,” Bluder said.
CONNECTICUT 92, IOWA 72
NCAA Tournament Regional Semifinal, at San Antonio
IOWA (72): McKenna Warnock 6-9 5-5 20, Monika Czinano 7-11 0-0 14, Kate Martin 2-9 0-0 5, Caitlin Clark 7-21 3-4 21, Gabbie Marshall 4-6 0-0 12, Tomi Taiwo 0-4 0-0 0, Sharon Goodman 0-0 0-0 0, Megan Meyer 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-60 8-9 72.
CONNECTICUT (92): Aaliyah Edwards 9-11 0-1 18, Olivia Nelson-Ododa 2-6 0-0 4, Paige Bueckers 7-18 2-2 18, Christyn Williams 12-23 0-0 27, Evina Westbrook 7-9 0-0 17, Aubrey Griffin 1-4 0-0 2, Anna Makurat 2-2 0-0 6. Totals 40-73 2-3 92.
Halftime: UConn 49, Iowa 35. 3-point goals: Iowa 12-29 (Warnock 3-4, Martin 1-5, Clark 4-12, Marshall 4-5, Taiwo 0-3), UConn 10-23 (Bueckers 2-6, Williams 3-9, Westbrook 3-5, Griffin 0-1, Makurat 2-2). Team fouls: Iowa 7, UConn 8. Fouled out: none. Rebounds: Iowa 25 (Warnock, Martin 5), UConn 42 (Nelson-Ododa 11). Assists: Iowa 18 (Martin, Clark 5), UConn 30 (Westbrook 10). Steals: Iowa 6 (Clark, Marshall 2), UConn 6 (Edwards, Nelson-Ododa, Westbrook 2). Turnovers: Iowa 15, UConn 12.
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