Slow start 'caught up to us,' as UConn bows out of NCAA tourney
By Alexa Philippou,2023-03-25
SEATTLE -- UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma remarked earlier this season that all good things come to an end after the Huskies dropped back-to-back games for the first time since March 1993.
Now, the same could be said Saturday, albeit regarding something of much greater consequence and more shocking magnitude: No. 2 seed UConn will not appear in the Final Four for the first time since 2007 after falling in the Sweet 16 of the Seattle 3 Regional to the No. 3 seed Ohio State Buckeyes 73-61 .
It's also the first time since 2005 that the Huskies fell as early as the regional semifinal in the NCAA tournament.
Ohio State will appear in its first Elite Eight since 1993.
UConn trailed by 10 at the half, only the sixth time it has faced a double-digit halftime deficit in an NCAA tournament game. It is now 0-6 in those appearances.
The Huskies managed to get within five toward the end of the third quarter, but Ohio State hit enough shots to extend its edge back to 10 going into the final frame. A 3 from Rikki Harris with 8 minutes, 23 seconds to play put the Buckeyes up by 16, and though UConn cut it to nine twice later in the fourth, it couldn't get any closer.
Twenty-five turnovers -- including 18 in the first half, off which the Buckeyes scored 19 points -- allowed Ohio State to build its lead. That was also the most UConn has coughed up the ball in an NCAA tournament game since at least 1999-00. The Huskies didn't help themselves by shooting 7-for-15 from the free throw line, while star forward Aaliyah Edwards played limited minutes because of foul trouble.
They were outscored 21-9 in the pivotal second quarter.
"We picked the worst day to actually be doing the things that we've been struggling with all year long," Auriemma told ESPN's Holly Rowe entering the fourth quarter. "And those three quarters, it's all caught up to us."
Auriemma's squad has been through a litany of injuries this season. In addition to 2020-21 national player of the year Paige Bueckers missing the entire season because of an ACL injury, former No. 1 recruit Azzi Fudd was sidelined most of the regular season because of knee injuries. Still, the Huskies had been playing strong basketball since the calendar turned to March, also when Fudd returned to the court, winning the Big East tournament and breezing through the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament.
Freshman Cotie McMahon led Ohio State with 23 points, while Lou Lopez Senechal paced the Huskies with 25.
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