Connecticut, which overcame a winding, irritating, injury-ridden common season to renew its customary place as a postseason energy, lasted simply lengthy sufficient on Friday night time to defeat the reigning nationwide champion, Stanford, within the Ultimate 4.
The victory by the Huskies, 63-58, in Minneapolis assured UConn of a shot at its twelfth N.C.A.A. title, which it’ll pursue in a Sunday recreation in opposition to South Carolina, the highest general seed within the girls’s event.
Paige Bueckers, the sensational sophomore guard who grew up close to Minneapolis however missed 19 video games this season with a knee damage, led the Huskies with 14 factors, at the same time as she spent a while on the bench within the fourth quarter after taking successful to the legs. And a UConn protection that strained Stanford from the beginning held the Cardinal to one in all their lowest-scoring video games of the season regardless of a late run that repeatedly turned the marathon right into a one-possession affair.
Stanford made simply 35 % of its area objectives, whereas UConn, a No. 2 seed within the event, mustered a barely higher outing, with 37 %.
UConn outscored Stanford within the first quarter, choosing up 12 factors and holding the Cardinal to 9, almost a season-low for the No. 1 seed in a gap interval. However Stanford started to collect a measure extra of offensive pressure within the second, when 5 gamers — Francesca Belibi, Cameron Brink, Lexie Hull, Haley Jones and Hannah Leap — scored, their steadiness barely outpacing a UConn group that picked up a trio of 3-pointers from Evina Westbrook.
At halftime, the Huskies had a 1-point benefit. The rating promised an uncommon final result for one group: UConn arrived in Minneapolis with a 25-1 file this season in video games it led after two quarters. Stanford was 6-1 after trailing on the half.
Stanford’s offense, although, maintained its sputter, no less than by its requirements, within the third. The Cardinal struggled to maneuver the ball across the courtroom, and their often glimmering 3-point capturing languished. However UConn was hardly proving explosive itself, and the Huskies held a one-possession lead headed into the ultimate quarter.
Olivia Nelson-Ododa, although, hit an early layup after which a free throw. Christyn Williams, a senior, added one of many night time’s fleeting 3-pointers, adopted by extra free throws from Nelson-Ododa.
UConn, which beat Stanford within the 1995 Ultimate 4 on its option to its first nationwide title below Coach Geno Auriemma, had an 8-point lead with lower than 5 minutes to play, helped alongside by a Stanford scoring drought that stretched virtually three minutes.
Stanford, its scoring led by Jones, who had 20 factors on Friday, repeatedly narrowed the margin to a single possession within the last minute, however late free throws by Williams and Azzi Fudd helped UConn to rebuild and protect its leads.
In Friday night’s first recreation in Minneapolis, South Carolina routed Louisville, 72-59. The Gamecocks, who misplaced to Stanford in final 12 months’s Ultimate 4, final appeared within the nationwide championship recreation in 2017, when South Carolina gained its lone girls’s basketball title.
South Carolina, whose gamers gathered across the courtroom on the Goal Middle to look at their weekend rivals, and UConn will play the championship recreation on Sunday night time.