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UConn provides No. 1 South Carolina all it could deal with, however falls simply brief in 81-77 loss

South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston dribbles around UConn’s Aaliyah Edwards, left, UConn’s Dorka Juhasz, center, and UConn’s Lou Lopez-Senechal, right, in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023, in Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill) (Jessica Hill / AP)UConn women’s basketball entered a rematch of the last season’s national title game

UConn provides No. 1 South Carolina all it could deal with, however falls simply brief in 81-77 loss

South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston dribbles round UConn’s Aaliyah Edwards, left, UConn’s Dorka Juhasz, heart, and UConn’s Lou Lopez-Senechal, proper, within the second half of an NCAA school basketball sport, Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023, in Hartford, Conn. (AP Photograph/Jessica Hill) (Jessica Hill / AP)

UConn ladies’s basketball entered a rematch of the final season’s nationwide title sport in opposition to South Carolina in an unfamiliar place: Not the extensively assumed favorites.

With simply eight gamers obtainable, the No. 5 Huskies gave the No. 1 crew within the nation a powerful combat all the best way to the ultimate buzzer, however in the end couldn’t full the upset. They misplaced 81-77 to the Gamecocks in entrance a sold-out crowd at XL Heart on Sunday.

UConn (21-3, 13-0 Massive East) led by as many as 11 factors within the first half, however South Carolina (23-0, 10-0 SEC) had the sport tied at 34 by halftime and took management within the second half. After trailing by 12 factors with 2:13 left, the Huskies managed to make it a one-possession sport within the last seconds.

“They’ve loads to be ok with as soon as they get previous what it feels wish to lose,” Auriemma mentioned. “I informed them, I mentioned, ‘I really feel higher at 3 o’clock right now than I did at 12 o’clock.’ As a result of at 12 o’clock, I actually didn’t know the way we might reply. I knew we might play exhausting as a result of we’ve been taking part in exhausting all yr lengthy, I knew we might compete like hell, however I didn’t know who was going to make an enormous play, who was going to get an enormous rebound, who was going to make an enormous shot, issues like that. And I do know extra now than I did at midday and … I really feel actually good about them proper now, the place we’re.”

That is UConn’s first dwelling loss to the Gamecocks in collection historical past, relationship again to 2007. The Huskies maintain a 9-4 lead all-time, however South Carolina has now received 4 of the final 5 matchups.

Reigning nationwide participant of the yr Aliyah Boston led South Carolina with 26 factors and 11 rebounds, with 23 of these factors coming within the second half. Kamila Cardoso had 17 factors and 11 rebounds off the bench. Johnson had 14 factors and 7 assists.

Aaliyah Edwards led the Huskies with 25 factors and 4 rebounds. Lou Lopez Sénéchal had 19 factors and 5 rebounds, Aubrey Griffin completed with 17 factors and 4 rebounds and Nika Mühl had 11 factors, 4 assists and 4 rebounds. Dorka Juhász had a team-high seven rebounds, together with 5 factors and two blocks.

With a measurement benefit inside, South Carolina outrebounded UConn 42-30 and had a 25-10 edge in second likelihood factors. The Huskies had hoped to make up for that with 3-pointers, however solely went 2 of 6 from deep, which Auriemma mentioned was a key issue.

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The Huskies had been decided to set the tone early after being outscored 22-8 within the first quarter the final time these two groups confronted, and that’s precisely what they did. UConn held a 25-14 lead on the finish of the opening body this time round, thanks largely to the play of Mühl. The junior level guard scored 9 factors on 3 of three capturing within the first.

The Huskies shot 61.5% (8 of 15) from the sphere within the first, however that manufacturing dwindled to 27.3% (3 of 11) because the Gamecocks outscored them 20-9 within the second.

Edwards was referred to as for her third foul with 3:03 left within the second, prompting Auriemma to sub her out of the sport for freshman Ayanna Patterson.At that time the Huskies had been within the midst of a four-minute scoring drought, permitting the Gamecocks to chop into their lead. Lopez Sénéchal obtained a shot to fall because the shot clock expired to interrupt the drought, pushing UConn’s result in 33-27.

However Cardoso answered on the opposite finish, because the Huskies struggled to decelerate the 6-foot-7 heart all through the afternoon. She made a free throw, grabbed an offensive rebound off her miss and put it again up for a rating within the last seconds to make it a tie sport, 34-34 at halftime.

“Kamilla was the change,” Boston mentioned. “She was simply dominant. “She obtained the ball, she rebounded, she scored and she or he made it exhausting for (UConn).”

Cardoso had 11 factors and 6 rebounds off the bench to steer all gamers on the break. The Gamecocks shot 34.3% within the first half and obtained the majority of their scoring from their bench (24 factors). UConn restricted South Carolina’s two greatest gamers, Boston and Zia Cooke within the first half, holding them to a mixed 0-for-13 from the ground and 4 factors.

Cooke scored the primary factors out of the halftime break, giving South Carolina its first lead for the reason that opening seconds of the sport. Boston obtained going as effectively, making two layups in lower than a minute to kickstart a monster second half.

The 2 groups traded blows till the Gamecocks went on a 6-0 run in a little bit over a minute. Together with his crew dealing with its largest deficit of the day to this point, down 51-45, Auriemma referred to as a timeout with 1:45 left.

Cardoso had two layups and a block on the run. Edwards went proper again although, scoring an and-one bucket on her out of the timeout, full with an emphatic chest bump celebration with Paige Bueckers on the bench. She was referred to as for her fourth foul shortly after although and subbed out of the sport with a little bit over a minute left within the quarter.

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UConn trailed South Carolina 53-50 on the finish of the third quarter.

After beginning the sport 0 of 11 from deep, the Gamecocks lastly obtained triple to fall from Brea Beal with 8:11 left within the fourth. Johnson made one other proper after that, stretching their result in six.

Annoyed with the best way the sport was being officiated, Auriemma yelled on the referees and threw his water bottle on the courtroom after Lopez Sénéchal obtained banged up whereas making an attempt to return off a display screen with underneath 4 minutes left. UConn trailed 65-59 at that time. He was referred to as for a technical foul, which might trigger a four-point swing in South Carolina’s favor.

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“I didn’t say something for a protracted, lengthy, very long time and I simply felt like, I don’t know if you wish to convey Lou in and you’ll see the bruises on her physique, it’s simply appalling what groups do to her now. It’s not basketball anymore. I don’t know what it’s, but it surely’s not basketball. So I believed that was an issue,” Auriemma mentioned. “I don’t wish to see a child get manhandled like that proper in entrance of the officers. … There have been numerous issues happening that had been being missed and it was very, very troublesome for for a few of our guys to maneuver out on the ground. … So yeah, dumb mistake by me.”

Boston made each pictures on the free throw line after which scored a jumper afterwards on the free possession, giving Gamecocks a 69-59 lead with 3:42 left.

Cardoso obtained a technical of her personal after fouling out and slamming the ball down in frustration with 1:20 left. Edwards and Lopez Sénéchal each break up their journeys to the road after that, adopted by a layup from Juhász. Identical to that, the Huskies had been again within the sport, down 74-68 with 1:11 left.

After Boston made considered one of two on the stripe, Edwards made a layup with 46.2 seconds remaining to make it a 75-70 sport. UConn referred to as timeout, seeking to make one last push, however it might come with out a number of the crew’s greatest gamers on the ground. Mühl fouled out with 34.7 seconds left and Lopez Sénéchal adopted go well with quickly after.

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UConn was down 80-74 with 16 seconds left after Beal and Johnson break up free throws for South Carolina, the second of which got here off the Gamecocks’ twenty fifth offensive rebound. It appeared as if the sport was as soon as once more over, however Griffin made a miraculous and-one play to make it a three-point sport with 10.8 seconds left.

In the end although, the Gamecocks pulled away on the charity stripe.

“When you’ve a complete crowd cheering for us and at dwelling in opposition to large groups, these are the video games that we attempt for,” Lopez Sénéchal mentioned. “It’s all the time thrilling to be on the market and clearly we need to get out of those video games with a win, however we all know we’ll face them once more and we’ll get the win.”

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