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The news that keeps us Onward On!

The Carroll News

The news that keeps us Onward On!

The Carroll News

Women’s tournament sets the stage for an intense Sweet 16

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog
Bueckers led the Huskies to victory over Syracuse with a 32-point performance.

The 2024 Women’s NCAA basketball tournament was billed as one of the most exciting contests in recent years and the first weekend lived up to the hype.

Championship contenders took care of business, with top seeds South Carolina, Iowa, Texas and USC all winning their first two games. South Carolina had arguably the two most impressive performances of the first weekend. The 33-0 Gamecocks beat their opponents by an average of 47 points.

But, not every favorite was safe from an upset this weekend. Louisville, a No.6 seed, was knocked off by No. 11 Middle Tennessee State in a thrilling game that came down to the final minute. However, an actual Cinderella run was missing for Middle Tennessee, as they were beaten swiftly by LSU in the next round.

Another surprise came on Sunday when No. 7 seed Duke knocked off No. 2 seed and Big Ten regular season champion, Ohio State, in the second round. The Buckeyes led most of the game but could not stop Reigan Richardson and the Blue Devils once they got hot in the second half.

The tournament’s first weekend also saw strong performances from freshmen players. In their first-round game against Maryland, Iowa State’s Audi Crooks scored an incredible 40 points on 18 of 20 shooting to help the Cyclones overcome a 20-point deficit and win. Crooks’ 40 points were the most by a freshman in an NCAA tournament game. USC’s JuJu Watkins also continued her remarkable freshman season by scoring 28 points in a second-round victory
over Kansas.

Iowa’s Caitlin Clark kept her historic senior season alive by scoring 27 points against Holy Cross and 32 against West Virginia to help the Hawkeyes get to the Sweet 16. Additionally, Clark’s performance added another milestone to her legacy: she passed Kelsey Plum’s NCAA record for points scored during a single season. While Clark’s performance was impressive, she also got help from her teammates. Hawkeye center Hannah Stuelkle was able to crash the glass for her, securing 11 rebounds along with making some critical free throws at the end of the game.

UConn also got a lift from their star player, Paige Bueckers. The Huskies had to endure a dogfight with Syracuse Monday night, and Bueckers made several difficult shots during a 32-point performance that helped lead her team to victory. The Huskies have been a force to be reckoned with this season despite losing key contributor, Azzi Fudd, to a season-ending foot injury in November.

Looking ahead to the tournament’s second weekend, there is guaranteed to be even more action and exciting matchups. Iowa and LSU are each one victory away from a rematch of last year’s national championship game in the Elite Eight. Additionally, Duke will look to upset another championship contender in their Sweet 16 matchup against UConn. Ultimately, the tournament will end here in Cleveland, with the Final Four and National Championship games being played on April 5 and 7 at RocketMortage Fieldhouse.

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