(Photo by BYU Photo/Marcos Escalona)
With its second upset over a higher-seeded team, an 80-76 win over No. 4 seed Nebraska on Monday, the BYU women’s basketball team (28-6) advances to the Sweet 16 of this year’s NCAA Women’s Basketball Championships.
The Cougars travel to Lincoln, Neb., to take on No. 1 seed Connecticut (36-0), Saturday, Mar. 29, at 3:30 p.m. CDT. The game is on ESPN and online at BYU Radio.
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This is the second time that BYU has advanced to the Sweet 16 under head coach Jeff Judkins and the second in the program’s history. The Cougars are just the third No. 12 seed that has ever advanced to the Sweet 16. Kansas did it in 2013 and San Francisco in 1996.
The 28 wins that BYU has recorded this year are both the most under coach Judkins and in the school’s women’s basketball program.
WCC Player and Defensive Player of the Year Jennifer Hamson tops the list in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots for BYU. She averages 18.0 ppg, 11.5 rpg and 4.1 bpg. Hamson ranks first in the nation in blocked shots, 11th in double-doubles, 14th in rebounds per game and 15th in field goal percentage.
Three other Cougars are averaging double figures in points with Lexi Eaton chipping in 17.1 followed by 11.2 points from Kim Beeston. Junior forward Morgan Bailey rounds out the scoring output, contributing 10.6 points. She is second on the team in rebounding, pulling down 7.0 per contest.
BYU is averaging 72.6 points per game, while holding opponents to 64.0 points. The Cougars, who are tied in fourth place in the nation in blocked shots, have recorded more blocks than opponents in 29 games, including a season-best 15 vs. NC State. In 27 games, BYU has dished out more assists and recorded more rebounds than opponents in 26 contests.
The top-seeded Huskies (36-0) advanced to the Sweet Sixteen with a decisive 91-52 win over Saint Joseph’s. The defending national champions enter this year’s NCAA tournament with an unblemished record for the sixth time in school history.
UConn captured its sixth Conference Tournament championship in the last seven years when it beat Louisville in the inaugural American Athletic Conference Tournament Championship on March 10. The Huskies also clinched the AAC regular season crown with a perfect 18-0 mark. UConn has a 19-2 record when playing in the Sweet 16.
Connecticut has five players scoring in double digits with Breanna Stewart at the top with 19.7 points per game. Bria Hartley follows with 16.5 points, while Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis contributes 12.7 points a contest. Rounding out the offensive prowess for the Huskies are Stefanie Dolson who chips in 12.4 points and Moriah Jefferson tallies 10.1 points per contest. Dolson tops the list in rebounds, pulling down 9.0 boards a game. Jefferson leads in assists, averaging 4.9 per game.
The Huskies are averaging 83.1 points per game while holding opponents to just 47.1 points.
UConn leads the series with BYU 2-0. This will be the first time the teams have played on a neutral court.
The team’s first meeting was on Nov. 27, 2007 when the Cougars made their first and only visit to Hartford, Conn. In that game the Huskies picked up the 80-34 win.
In the two school’s second matchup, UConn made its first ever visit to Provo, Utah on Nov. 25, 2008. The Huskies were ranked No. 1 nationally, becoming the highest ranked basketball team to ever play in the Marriott Center. In front of over 3,000 fans, Connecticut beat the Cougars 96-47.
A win over top-seeded Connecticut would send the Cougar women to the Elite Eight for the first time in the program’s history. BYU would play the winner of the DePaul/Texas A&M game on Monday night.