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Huskies headed to 2022 NCAA Championship

UConn has not been back to the NCAA Championship game since 2016.

MINNEAPOLIS — UConn star Paige Bueckers led the Huskies in return to her hometown to the NCAA Championship Finals after defeating defending champs Stanford, 63-58 on Friday night.

It's UConn's first trip to the championship game since 2016 when the Huskies won the last of four straight championships. Since then, the team has suffered heartbreaking defeats in the national semifinals, losing twice in overtime.

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UConn (30-5) will be seeking its 12th national championship, and the Huskies have never lost in an NCAA title game.

"You get to the Final Four, it's not easy to win either game," said head coach Geno Auriemma. "We make it so hard on ourselves sometimes and hopefully Sunday we can worry about beating South Carolina and not worry about beating ourselves."

UConn and Stanford played in front of a sold-out crowd of 18,268 at the Target Center in Minneapolis. 

Bueckers, the hometown kid, finished the game as UConn's leading scorer with 14 points on 7-13 shooting to go along with five assists.

"It doesn't matter the location and where we're playing," said Bueckers. "We're all just trying to win and whatever we have to do to do it, we will."

Credit: AP
UConn's Paige Bueckers reacts after drawing a charge during the second half of a college basketball game in the semifinal round of the Women's Final Four NCAA tournament Friday, April 1, 2022, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

UConn came out the gates slow shooting 2-8 from the field to start the first quarter. That did not hurt them much though as Stanford started the game 1-9 from the field.

"Points are hard to come by in this tournament, and today was no different," said Auriemma. "We didn't exactly play our A-game on the offensive end."

UConn did maintain a lead though even with the poor shooting, going up 12-9 after the first quarter.

Both teams shooting struggles carried over into the second quarter as they both were under 30% from the field.

A corner three from senior guard Evina Westbrook put UConn on the board for the first time in the quarter with six minutes remaining, and she then got a hot hand, draining two more threes putting UConn up by six.

"We wanted to win the game," said Westbrook.

Stanford did not let UConn pull away as the Cardinals shots 50% from the field in the quarter.

UConn led 27-26 at the half.

In the third quarter, Bueckers started to find her rhythm scoring two key buckets when Stanford was threatening to take control of the game.

Credit: AP
UConn's Paige Bueckers drives past Stanford's Cameron Brink during the second half of a college basketball game in the semifinal round of the Women's Final Four NCAA tournament Friday, April 1, 2022, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

UConn’s defense on Stanford’s Hull twins was phenomenal holding them both to a combined 1-13 shooting through three quarters.

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Despite UConn’s continued poor shooting, they led 39-37 going into the fourth.

UConn did go up by eight points in the fourth quarter, but Stanford would not go away. With what seemed to be an easy win, poor execution allowed Stanford to make the game come down to the wire. 

A bad pass from Westbrook with less than a minute remaining let Stanford get within two points, but free throws from freshman guard Azzi Fudd and senior guard Christyn Williams kept the game out of reach. 

Stanford missed the three to put them within one, and Husky sophomore forward Aaliyah Edwards sealed the game with a free throw.

RELATED: UConn's youngest women's basketball teammate gets Final Four surprise

UConn will now be playing on Sunday against South Carolina back in the Target Center in the NCAA Championship game.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Daniel Dashefsky is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. He can be reached at ddashefsky@fox61.com.


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