UConn gets physical in semifinal win
The Knights were going to aggressively crash the boards and make the officials to call fouls (which they didn't), on the other end, other than Katie Lou Samuelson they were willing to give up perimeter looks and try to clog up the lane.
It worked - for a while.
After giving up six offensive rebounds in the first quarter to UCF, UConn began pushing back and as a result it went from being a two-point game at the end of the first quarter to a 12-point lead at halftime and 24-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
"There are teams that are like that, they are physical and they are all over the place and wreak a little havoc," UConn junior guard Kia Nurse said. "I like that we responded with a calm and a understanding collectively. We were stronger with the ball, we got out in transition and got back to the game plan.
"They pressured pretty much the entire game, their physicality, their aggressiveness. To have that kind of game right now to prepare you and ramping up for the rest of this tournament and tournament to come, it will be good us."
A few statistical notes:
Katie Lou Samuelson made her 100th 3-pointer of the season. The only other Huskies with 100 treys in a season are Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (who did it twice) and Wendy Davis. Samuelson also has 93 assists and with seven more she will join fellow Mater Dei High School graduate Mosqueda-Lewis as the only other Huskies with 100 3-pointers and assists in the same season.
Heading into today's games the only women's Division I players with 100 assists and 100 3-pointers are Michigan State's Tori Jankoska, Belmont's Darby Maggard, Ohio State's Kelsey Mitchell and Kelsey Plum of Washington.
Also, Gabby Williams joins Maya Moore as the only UConn players with at least 400 points, 250 rebounds, 150 assists, 75 steals and 25 blocked shots in the same season.
South Florida will be UConn's opponent in the AAC title game for the third season in a row.
Kitija Laksa had 18 points, Tamara Henshaw had 15 and Maria Jespersen added 14 points and 13 rebounds to lead USF.
Temple jumped out to an early 9-point lead but down the stretch had trouble generating offense down the stretch.
New Haven's Tanaya Atkinson had her second straight double-double as she finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Atkinson, just a junior with at least one NCAA tournament game remaining this season and an entire senior season to play is 14th in program history with 1,217 points and 11th with 744 rebounds in her career.
ESPINOZA-HUNTER COMES UP BIG
UConn signee Andra Espinoza-Hunter had 32 points and 11 rebounds but her most impactful play came when she blocked the potential game-tying shot as Ossining (N.Y.) defeated Albertus Magnus 80-77 to win the program's seventh straight New York Sectional AA championship.
Next up is a game against Section 9 champion Monroe-Woodbury in the next round of the playoffs.