Kia Nurse scored 29 points and tied an NCAA Tournament record with nine 3-pointers to lead UConn to a 94-64 win over Syracuse on Monday night in a second-round rematch of last year's national championship game.
Iowa State's season came to a close with an 85-65 loss to No. 22 Syracuse in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the Gampel Pavilion on Saturday. To further complicate things, the odds are against the Orange as the Huskies are riding a 108 game winning streak into this game by beating the University of Albany by 61 today, 116-55.
Alexis Peterson had 25 points to lead Syracuse, which had boasted this week that it would bring the best guards in America into the rematch with UConn. But it was the play of freshman Gabby Cooper that perhaps most impressed.
UConn tried to schedule a game last season at Syracuse, which would have allowed star Breanna Stewart to play in front of her hometown fans. Syracuse forced Iowa State into 18 turnovers with its tenacious defense.
Confusion over the Orange's seeding was not isolated to Syracuse personnel.
Iowa State actually outscored Syracuse 57-52 over the final three quarters, but the game was decided in the first 10 minutes. Fennelly added Syracuse to the list of top-tier opponents the Cyclones played all season - a list that includes Baylor, Mississippi State and Texas. "It doesn't matter what seed we had, it could have been a 12-seed, we know what we are capable of".
The Orange advance to face the tournament's No. 1 overall seed CT on Monday in a rematch of last year's NCAA championship game. UConn came away with an 82-51 victory. They moved on to become the first three picks of the WNBA draft.
"They get up more 3s than any team I have seen this year and they are really quick, they get them off quickly, they can shoot from anywhere so we just have to be ready", UConn junior forward Gabby Williams said.
The Huskies have Crystal Dangerfield added to the mix Monday. A total of 17 times this season UConn's opponents have taken at least 20 3-pointers, so it is a strategy the Huskies have faced before.
"There is a little fire inside of me", she said. "You can see her confidence growing and that's what we're going to need from her going through the tournament".
The Huskies hit 12 of their first 18 shots and led 28-11 after a fast-break bucket at the first-quarter buzzer by Crystal Dangerfield. Neither coach Geno Auriemma nor the UConn players were satisfied with their showing on the defensive end - with Auriemma describing the team as being "out of sync" for much of the first half.