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uconn basketball game
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Huskies Storm Into March Madness: A Victorious Start To The Women’s Tournament

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Conn chapter.

If you are a passionate college basketball fan, like myself, then we have reached the most wonderful time of the year — the NCAA March Madness tournament. Each year, 68 teams fiercely compete to reach every program’s ultimate goal: the National Championship trophy. With each impending tip-off, the mundane rhythms of daily life yield to the exhilarating chaos of the tournament. Every jump shot, buzzer-beater, and upset serves as a reminder of the excitement of the game. Here at the University of Connecticut, or “Basketball Capital of the World,” this time of the year serves as a reminder of the legacy of both the men’s and women’s programs. As the men begin their journey to defend their title as the reigning national champions, the women’s team has something to prove after being eliminated in last year’s Sweet 16. However, it will be everything but easy. 

Over the course of the season, we unfortunately witnessed the roster dwindle down to eight available players due to season-ending injuries. As this is the second season in a row that injuries have plagued the women’s team, this only made the team more determined to show the world that you should never count out the Huskies. After being undefeated in conference play and winning the Big East tournament for the fourth season in a row, UConn was assigned as a 3-seed in the Portland 3 Region of this year’s tournament, and our first opponent was 14-seed Jackson State University. Coming off of a 21-game win streak, and also winning their conference tournament, JSU was going to be anything but an easy opponent. But that is the beauty of March Madness — anything can happen.

UConn Women’s Basketball Instagram

Game Day

As the day of the tournament arrived, UConn Nation made their appearance known as we all gathered within Gampel Pavilion to cheer on our Huskies. Most students, like myself, endured the pouring rain and waited hours outside of the arena to be one of the first inside to secure a seat to watch the game unfold. Once arriving inside, we watched as Gampel quickly filled with both UConn and JSU fans. 

For the next hour, while we waited for the game to begin, we watched as both teams entered the court and went through their pre-game routine of practicing shots and stretching. Watching both teams warm up showcased the intensity that each was carrying with them. The Huskies wanted to make the home crowd proud and advance to the next round, while the Tigers were looking for the upset and wanting to be the first HBCU to make it past the round of 64. In between each team warming up, we were treated to music by both the UConn pep band, and also JSU’s band. If I am being completely honest, the JSU band gave us a run for our money. They were phenomenal!

Start of UConn - JSU Round One Game
Photo by Michaela Elam

First half

Since the opening tip, Paige Bueckers reminded everyone that she was made for March, and scored the team’s first few points of the first quarter. JSU also started off strong, but UConn did what they do best, and drew up plays that were able to get both Paige and Aaliyah Edwards open and scoring. This led to the team going on a pretty big run that ended the quarter with a score of 22 points to JSU’s 8 points. 

At the start of the second quarter, the Tigers found their rhythm, got comfortable, and started to apply some pressure to our offense. As they were encouraged by the excited fans, the Tigers began to claw their way back into the game by making some key shots and drawing fouls against our players.  With each possession, each team fought tooth and nail, but our Huskies still were focused and in sync with each other and the environment of the crowd. Once reaching the end of the quarter, JSU player Ti’lan Boler hit a buzzer-beater 3-pointer that revved up her team and their fans, taking us into the half with a score of 49-28, in favor of us.

Second Half

Coming out of half-time, UConn continued to apply pressure and make some key baskets to keep a healthy lead. Jackson State, still determined to showcase their talents, did everything but quit and continued to play some strong defense and make crafty plays. After back-and-forth, UConn was still on top at the end of the third quarter, 79-50. 

Once beginning the final quarter, it was evident that the Huskies were going to be the team to advance, JSU made sure that the crowd remembered them for their strength, and showcased the immense talent that their program possesses. It is safe to say they demonstrated why they were their conference champions and were able to make it into the tournament. 

At the final buzzer, UConn reminded everyone of the program’s strength, securing the victory with a score of 86-64. To no one’s surprise, Paige Bueckers put on a performance to showcase her talent, finishing the game with 28 points. Freshman Ashlynn Shade set a new career high with 26 points, and Aaliyah Edwards contributed 20 points of her own. Boler for the Tigers also put on a stellar performance, scoring 25 points for her team.

Women\'s March Madness Round One at UConn
Photo by Michaela Elam

What Lies Ahead For the Team?  

This game was only a glimpse of the hunger, determination, and work ethic that the team possesses. Although missing key players due to injury, the team has not been deterred from their goal of ending this season as the 2024 National Champions. At the time of this publication, the team has dominated the tournament and has entered the program’s twenty-third Final Four! If there’s one thing you should take away from this article, and the tournament as a whole: never doubt UConn. Go Huskies! 

“When you think you can’t… UCONN.”

— Gigi Bryant
Michaela Elam is a sophomore nursing student at the University of Connecticut. She mainly writes articles based around entertainment industry, but is starting to branch out into more topics college centered. Since a young age, Michaela developed a passion for writing, and knew that she wanted to find an outlet to continue while in college. In the future, she hopes to work in the healthcare field as a Nurse Practitioner. In her free time, Michaela enjoys going to the gym, hanging with friends, and going for long drives. She is also an avid listener of R&B music, and is always down for a game of Uno.