Napheesa Collier’s 25 points and 10 rebounds helped second-seeded Connecticut rally in the fourth quarter to eliminate sixth-seeded UCLA 69-61 Friday night in an NCAA Women’s Tournament regional semifinal in Albany, N.Y.
Crystal Dangerfield added 15 points for the Huskies (34-2), who will meet top-seeded Louisville on Sunday for the regional title and a berth in the Final Four on April 5 in Tampa. The Cardinals beat fourth-seeded Oregon State 61-44 later Friday.
Christyn Williams scored 14 as UConn reached its 14th straight regional title game.
Japreece Dean tallied 16 points and Kennedy Burke hit for 14 for the Bruins (22-13), but the duo combined to make only 10 of 34 shots from the field. Lindsey Corsaro scored 11 points, but inaccurate shooting ultimately doomed the upstarts from Westwood.
UCLA converted just 21 of 67 field-goal attempts (31.3 percent), including 6 of 22 (27 percent) from the 3-point arc. That was enough to negate a 41-38 Bruins rebounding advantage and UCLA’s 19 offensive boards.
Dangerfield was the star in the fourth quarter with 11 points, including seven in a row. She sank a jumper, scored in transition and then drilled a 3-pointer with 7:13 left for a 58-52 Huskies lead. The Bruins never got closer than five after that.
After UCLA scored the first five points of the game, Collier dominated the next five minutes, scoring 10 points and giving Connecticut a 13-9 lead. Teammates picked it up from there, and the Huskies went to the second quarter with a 22-15 advantage.
Connecticut stretched its lead to 31-19 when Williams canned a 3-pointer with 5:15 left in the half, but the Bruins’ defense controlled the half’s remainder. UCLA didn’t allow another point, and Lauryn Miller’s short jumper in the final minute allowed the Bruins to head for the locker room down just 31-26.
UCLA found the range offensively in the third quarter, grabbing a 46-41 lead with 2:22 remaining when Corsaro sank a 3-pointer off an offensive rebound. But the Huskies clawed back, drawing within 50-49 at quarter’s end thanks to a layup by Megan Walker.
—Field Level Media