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NCAAW Sweet Sixteen Recap (Day 1): UConn squeaks by UCLA in first day of regional semifinals action

The UConn Huskies are back in the Elite Eight, but Napheesa Collier and her teammates had to dig deep for their win.

NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Albany Regional-UCLA vs Connecticut
Crystal Dangerfield’s big fourth-quarter performance helped UConn escape upset and advance to the Elite Eight.
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The first day of Sweet Sixteen matchups in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament are decided. There were no upsets in the Albany and Portland regional semifinals, and the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds will meet again on Sunday.

Of the four games last night, UConn‘s 69-61 win over the UCLA Burins was the most significant. In past seasons, the Huskies had little trouble advancing to Final Fours and NCAA championships. But this year, UConn entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed in the Albany Region despite having a 33-2 record heading into Friday’s game.

The Bruins outscored the Huskies 35-27 in the second and third quarters of the game. For a while, it appeared that UCLA might pull off the upset and bring UConn’s 13-year Elite Eight streak to an end.

However, junior guard Crystal Dangerfield scored 11 points in the fourth quarter to help the Huskies overcome a 50-49 deficit and turn that into a hard-fought win.

Senior Napheesa Collier added 25 points and 10 rebounds. For UCLA, Kennedy Burke scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

The Huskies have been women’s college basketball’s top program over the past 20 years. However, they aren’t as dominant as they once were for most of the 2010s. This is partly because of the NCAA conference realignment where UConn was left out of the “power conferences.”

If UConn does not win the national championship this year, the Huskies will be without a championship for three consecutive seasons. Though the Huskies continue to attract many of the top recruits in the country, they are in the mid-major American Athletic Conference, which isn’t as strong as regional power conferences. Their players therefore may not be as mentally prepared for difficult matchups as teams in the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC and Pac-12 are at tournament time. This could become more apparent in future seasons.

NCAAW Tournament — Sweet Sixteen, Day 1

Game results

Albany Region

No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 4 Oregon State, 61-44

No. 2 UConn vs. No. 6 UCLA, 69-61

Portland Region

No. 1 Mississippi State vs. No. 5 Arizona State, 76-53

No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 6 South Dakota State, 63-53

NCAAW Tournament game information

Sweet Sixteen

When: Saturday, March 30 (click for times)

Where: Albany, NY; Chicago, IL; Greensboro, NC; Portland, OR

How to watch: ESPN, ESPN2, WatchESPN

Elite Eight

When: Sunday, March 31; Monday, April 1 (click for times)

Where: Albany, NY; Chicago, IL; Greensboro, NC; Portland, OR

How to watch: ESPN, ESPN2, WatchESPN

Final Four

When: Friday, April 5, at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. ET

Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, FL

How to watch: ESPN2, WatchESPN

National Championship

When: Sunday, April 7, at 6 p.m. ET

Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, FL

How to watch: ESPN, WatchESPN

More ways to watch the games

Want to watch in person? Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight and Final Four tickets can be found on the websites of the hosting arenas, or here.