It wasn’t the Paige Bueckers-Caitilin Clark show many expected, but it was more of a reminder that UConn is still as close to unbeatable as they come.
The super freshmen carried much of the pre-ABC aired hype between the top-seed UConn and five-seed Iowa in the NCAA Women’s River Walk Region, but the show was stolen almost immediately by Evina Westbrook and Aaliyah Edwards. It’s a reminder to many that UConn produces great basketball players at the rate that New York City-produced exceptional bodegas on every street corner before gentrification.
In the 92-72 UConn win, Edwards took the opportunity to both remind you and introduce herself to the uninitiated as a phenomenal freshman herself, scoring and defending on the inside, effortlessly switching onto guards, and providing a needed energy boost for UConn’s opener. Westbrook came out the gate with multiple three-point conversions, quickly showcasing why mock drafts have her in the top-five of next month’s WNBA Draft.
The game quickly became the Christyn Williams show, and along with scoring a game-best 27 points, we learned that she might even be better on TikTok.
Both Clark and Bueckers woke up in the third, but UConn, per usual, is armed with every weapon imaginable as they continue to blast through the tournament. Key lines were as follows.
Christyn Williams: 27 points, 12-23 FG, 3-9 3PT
Paige Bueckers: 18 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists
Aaliyah Edwards: 18 points, 9-11 FG, 2 blocks, 2 steals
Evina Westbrook: 17 points, 10 assists, 9 rebounds, 7-9 FG
It was also Geno Auriemma’s return to the sidelines after missing the first two rounds due to COVID. His team shot over 54-percent from the field, 40-percent from three, and only needed to shoot three free throws in the game. Clark, the nation’s leading scorer who entered the game at 27.4 points, 6.8 assists, and 6.0 rebounds per game, did finish with 21 points and five assists, but UConn’s defense forced her to shoot 33-percent from both the field (7-for-21) and from three (4-for-12). Iowa’s McKenna Warnock also added 20 points on 6-of-9 shooting.
This will now be 15 straight elite eights for UConn, which is one of the more absurd feats of consistency across all of sports. UConn will await the winner of Baylor and Michigan in the next round.