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UConn keeps rolling into Sweet Sixteen

UConn is set to play against Indiana in Bridgeport on Saturday

STORRS, Connecticut — UConn is riding into the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament, beating UCF in a game closer than what many imagined. 

The game came down to the last minute with UCF pulling to within three points of UConn's dwindling lead. 

But late-game free throws from senior Christyn Williams and freshman Azzi Fudd put the game out of reach as UConn won 52-47. 

"Given the kind of season we've had so far, this was a rather new experience for me," said Head Coach Geno Auriemma. "I'm not sure how we won that game, but we did." 

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The Huskies came into the game a 16.5 point favorite over the Golden Knights. But to start the game, UCF came out much stronger.

UConn started out slow in the first quarter going 3-13 in the first seven minutes of the game and UCF took advantage of jumping ahead 14-9 in the first. 

The game got chippy early as well as reigning player of the year Paige Bueckers got into it with a UCF's Diamond Battles, fighting over a loose ball. 

"It was a battle the whole game," said Williams. "We just tried to throw the first punch and keep punching them."  

The first quarter ended 18-12. 

UConn's defense came to life in the second quarter, holding UCF to two points in the first five minutes, spark plugged by the entrance of Big East Defensive Player of the Year Nika Mühl. 

"I just think the energy Nika brings to our team is incredible," said Fudd. "She brings so much to our team."

UConn's shooting still didn't improve much in the second quarter, but they were able to take the lead going into the half up 26-23. 

More fireworks with Bueckers and Battles happened in the third quarter as Battles knocked Bueckers to the ground with her arm garnering a video review and an offensive foul called. 

Bueckers had a quiet night despite playing big minutes, only scoring nine points on 4-9 shooting while on the court for 32 minutes.

It was back and forth for more of the third quarter with teams trading buckets. However, UConn pulled ahead late in the third with the score at 38-30 heading into the fourth quarter.

A huge three-by freshman Fudd putting herself into double-digits scoring put UConn up double-digits early in the fourth. She finished the game with a game-high 16 points on 4-13 shooting.

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"The atmosphere was amazing," said Fudd. "My teammates had confidence in me and when my shot wasn't falling they just kept telling me to keep shooting."

UCF made UConn sweat to close the game but the Huskies hung on and were able to survive and advance to the next round

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UConn's next game is in Bridgeport where they'll be facing the No. 3 seed, Indiana.

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


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