UConn Huskies freshman star Paige Bueckers (28 points) intercepted a Baylor inbounds pass with 0.8 seconds left and the No. 1 seed in the River Walk Region held on to defeat the No. 2 seed Baylor Lady Bears 69-67, advancing to the Final Four on Monday night in San Antonio.
Baylor was in that tough position because Aaliyah Edwards and Olivia Nelson-Ododa successfully defended a DiJonai Carrington shot on the left baseline and Christyn Williams (21 points, seven rebounds) picked up the rebound for UConn with 0.8 seconds left. Williams then made one of two free throws to make it 69-67.
Baylor had gone on a 13-4 run capped by two Carrington free throws that cut UConn’s lead to one with 19 ticks remaining. That came after a 19-0 UConn run that gave the Huskies the lead for good. Bueckers hit maybe the most important shot of the 19-0 run on a 3-pointer to make it 62-55 with 7:47 to go in the fourth. Williams followed that with a reverse layup that gave UConn its biggest lead of the final frame at nine with 7:08 to play.
The Huskies will now face the winner of Arizona/Indiana in the Final Four.
Carrington scored 22 points and added seven boards in defeat. Teammate NaLyssa Smith was good for 14 point and 13 boards.
Baylor star DiDi Richards left the game with an apparent hamstring injury with 2:37 remaining in the third and UConn went on a 9-2 run to close the quarter, which cut Baylor’s lead to 55-53. Richards returned briefly, but was limping and had to exit again.
Baylor went on an 8-0 run from the 4:49 mark of the third to 2:55 to open up its first comfortable lead of the game at 53-44. Smith scored the final four points of the run.
UConn led by as many as five in the second, but Baylor had the final say in the frame. Carrington scored the final five points before the half to put the Lady Bears up two. She was fouled on a three, made 2-of-3 free throws, was fouled again, made 1-of-2 and then Smith go the rebound after the second was missed, which led to a Carrington layup.
UConn built up a nice six-point lead with 40 seconds remaining in the first and had enough time to go up by more. Nelson-Ododa blocked a Carrington shot from behind the arc, but Carrington gathered the ball, drove to the basket and finished inside to cut UConn’s lead to 26-22. On UConn’s next possession, Smith stole the ball near half court and made a fast break layup to cut it to 26-24 after one.
UConn went on a 10-0 run early that took its lead from 6-4 to 16-4. The run featured five points from Bueckers. Baylor answered with a 10-0 run of its own.