BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) UConn players were visibly shaken Monday night when teammate Dorka Juhasz suffered a horrific left arm injury in the first half of the Huskies’ regional final victory over North Carolina State.
But in what has become a team trademark this season, Connecticut shrugged off that adversity and beat the Wolfpack 91-87 in two overtimes to advance to a 14th straight Final Four. It was also the team’s 14th consecutive victory.
“I think after going through all the stuff that we’ve been through and knowing that we’re in the middle of a game right now, I think they’ve refocused pretty well, considering,” said the trainer Geno Auriemma.
The Huskies were led by 27 points from Paige Bueckers, who was playing only her ninth game after missing nearly three months with a broken and torn meniscus in her left knee, an injury sustained in the last minute of a win over Ours. Lady in December 5.
“She’s still a kid and she still missed two months of basketball,” Auriemma said. “And not just the games, she missed two months of training. It was going to take time. Who knew? I didn’t expect this to come, this kind of moment she had. But you know, Paige is different.
The Huskies also got 19 points from rookie Azzi Fudd, the nation’s top rookie this fall, who also missed two months of the season and 11 games between Nov. 22 and Jan. 25 with a stress injury in his right foot.
In fact, eight UConn players have had to sit out at least two games this season due to injury or illness, setbacks that have led to 10 different starting lineups and the first season of five losses. of UConn in a decade.
“A lot of us fell at one point or another during the season, so we kind of learned to step in and keep hitting shots,” said senior guard Christyn Williams (21 points), who worked on it. returning from a fight with COVID-19 in January. “Yes, we always find a way to do that.”
Juhasz, a senior transfer from Ohio State, went down in the first half when she was fouled on a layup attempt and tried to set up her downfall.
Auriemma said there was a sharp fracture and dislocation just above her left wrist. Juhasz was on the ground in tears and was helped into the locker room with her team leading by seven points.
“A shining moment? Well, one moment that’s not so bright and your season is over,” Auriemma said. “That’s how fragile it is and that’s why you have to appreciate it and you have to enjoy it.”
It’s a lesson Bueckers said she and her teammates had to learn the hard way this season, but served them well in the NCAA Tournament.
“We don’t look to the future,” she said. “We are where our feet are and stay in the present.”
The Huskies will enter the Final Four looking for a record 12th national title, with a rotation of eight players, all of whom have had to come on at one point or another this season. The first is defending champion Stanford.
“You know, when everybody’s healthy, they have a chance to win it all,” North Carolina State coach Wes Moore said.
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