As Friday bleeds into Saturday, we got a more clear view of what the field will likely look like in Tampa. Four teams punched their tickets to the Elite Eight and left us with a couple of star-studded matchups to look forward to on Saturday. But Friday left us plenty to talk about, with UConn getting a scare against UCLA, Sabrina Ionescu coming just short of a triple double and an Elite-Eight matchup between UConn and Louisville to overanalyze before they tip off.
UConn Pushes Through Another Scare
For the second game in a row, the Huskies endured a scare from a lower-ranked team. Buffalo gave them a bit of a jolt in the Round of 32, with Felisha Legette-Jack and the Bulls keeping the game in single digits for stretches and showing the Huskies mortality. Fast forward to Friday and it looked like UCLA might have UConn on the ropes. The Bruins even led heading into the fourth quarter.
Then UConn woke up. The team outscored UCLA 20-11 in the fourth and overcame yet another challenger standing in its way to Tampa. Napheesa Collier continues to be the Huskies' inspiration, scoring 10 points in the first quarter and ending the matchup with a game-high 25. It was her hard work that helped the team overcome shooting 27% from three and a poor game from Katie Lou Samuelson. UConn likely can’t afford another off game and will need all the help it can get in the next round. And speaking of the next round …
An Epic Elite Eight Matchup
Louisville ended Oregon State’s season for the second year in a row and set up what’s sure to be an incredible Elite Eight game with UConn. And while the Huskies have been struggling a bit—or whatever you can call one of the most dominant teams in history not constantly winning by 20—the Cardinals have looked great.
Asia Durr has and always will be a bucket, but the consistently solid play of Sam Fuehring has been particularly interesting to watch. She went 3-of-4 from three and tied for the team lead in points with 17, showing off her range and proving that Louisville has quite an effective one-two punch. Watching Fuehring’s potential matchup with Collier—and Durr against UConn’s trio of guards—will be fascinating.
The Triple Double Queen Nearly Does it Again
Sabrina Ionescu came *this* close to grabbing another NCAA tournament triple double Friday, coming three rebounds short of another one. While she didn’t get the flashy stat, Ionescu certainly put on a show against South Dakota State, dropping 17 points and assisting on 11 buckets to help the team to another Elite Eight.
But Ionescu wasn’t the only outstanding Duck on Friday. Ruthy Hebard led the team with 24 points and looked like a dominant presence on the boards. Hebard likely wanted a bounce-back game after going for only eight points in the team’s round of 32 game against Indiana. And with Teaira McCowan looking to give her problems in the post in the Elite Eight, this might be just what Hebard needed.