Clingan lifts UConn past Iowa State for Phil Knight title

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
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PORTLAND, Ore. – Donovan Clingan had 15 points and 10 rebounds to power No. 20 UConn to a 71-53 win over Iowa State in the championship game of the Phil Knight Invitational on Sunday night.

Tristen Newton scored 13 points for the Huskies (8-0), who went 20 for 25 at the free-throw line. Alex Karaban and Andre Jackson, Jr. each had 10 points.

Osun Osunniyi led Iowa State (5-1) with 14 points. Tamin Lipsey had 12 points and Jaren Holmes finished with 11.

“They were the more aggressive team,” Iowa State coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “We wanted a physical game. We didn’t want a physical game with them getting the rebounds and then also us putting them on the foul line. Lesson that we’ve got to learn is we need to embrace being the aggressor at both ends of the floor at all times.”

The Huskies had more offensive rebounds (20) than the Cyclones had total rebounds (19), and capitalized on that disparity with 20 second-chance points.

“Those guys are tough,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. “T.J.`s an excellent coach. They grind people up. To outrebound them, it just speaks to how tough we were.”

Clingan, who was named tournament MVP, scored eight points to help UConn to a 38-28 lead at the break.

Iowa State closed to 53-48 on Holmes’ 3-pointer midway through the second half. But Karaban made a 3 and a dunk, and Newton’s jumper made it 60-48 with 7:13 remaining.

BIG PICTURE

UConn: The Huskies couldn’t have asked for a better showing in Portland, winning all three of their games.

Iowa State: The Cyclones picked up nice wins over Villanova and top-ranked North Carolina in the earlier rounds but ended with their first loss of the season.

UP NEXT

UConn: The Huskies return home to face Oklahoma State on Thursday.

Iowa State: The Cyclones return home to face North Dakota on Tuesday.

No. 3 UConn rallies past No. 9 Iowa to win Phil Knight title

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
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PORTLAND, Ore. – Azzi Fudd scored 24 points to rally No. 3 UConn past No. 9 Iowa 86-79 Sunday in the championship game of the first Phil Knight Legacy women’s tournament.

“It really was difficult to play against these guys,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “I don’t think we felt really good about ourselves at halftime. I thought we came out in the third quarter and really took control of the game.”

Fudd had plenty of help, with Aaliyah Edwards (20 points, 13 rebounds) and three other Huskies (5-0) scoring in double-figures. Edwards was named MVP of the tournament.

Iowa (5-2) star Caitlin Clark had 25 points, and Kate Martin added 20.

Edwards got UConn off to a strong start, scoring 10 points while the Huskies built a 20-14 edge.

Clark and the Hawkeyes then surged with a 13-2 run to begin the second quarter and led 41-35 at halftime. Clark scored 17 points in the first half.

Martin hit a 3-pointer in the third quarter for a 52-41 lead, but UConn countered with 11 straight points and led 61-57 entering the fourth.

Iowa opened the final quarter with nine straight points for a 66-61 lead, but the Huskies countered and pulled away in the middle of the period, leading 79-70 after Carolina Ducharme’s 3-pointer with 3:42 left.

“Azzi Fudd really came to life in that third quarter,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “I was really pleased with our first half. If it wasn’t for that third quarter, but yes, we play four. And we missed some shots in the fourth quarter that we usually make.”

BIG PICTURE

Iowa: Iowa dominated the battle of the 3-point line for much of the game. The Hawkeyes made 13 3-pointers to only eight for UConn.

UConn: Sunday was a tale of two halves for Fudd. Fudd started the game 1 for 8 from the field but was red-hot in the second half, going 9 for 11.

UP NEXT

Iowa: The Hawkeyes will host N.C. State on Thursday.

UConn: The Huskies will host Providence on Friday.

Fudd scores 32, No. 5 UConn beats third-ranked Texas 83-76

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STORRS, Conn. – Azzi Fudd put on an offensive show to help UConn win an early season showdown with Texas.

The sophomore guard scored 22 of her career-high 32 points in the second half to help the No. 5 Huskies beat third-ranked Texas 83-76 on Monday night.

“That’s an All-American performance today, player-of-the-year performance,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “I don’t know if we can count on that every single night, but it was pretty impressive tonight.”

Aubrey Griffin added 14 points and Lou Lopez Senechal had 12 for the Huskies (2-0), who moved up one spot in the poll earlier in the day. They stayed unbeaten against Texas (1-1) in 10 meetings. This was the first time the historic women’s basketball powers had played on UConn’s campus at Gampel Pavilion.

“This game was a lot of fun and there’s a lot we can take away that we can get better at,” said Fudd, who scored 17 in the fourth quarter. “A lot of really good things we did that we can build on.”

UConn led by five at the half and built the lead to double-digits behind Fudd in the third quarter, going up 63-51 to the delight of the sold-out crowd that was led by a boisterous student section. The lead ballooned to 17 points before the Longhorns scored eight straight to get back within single digits with just over 2 minutes left.

“I think I shot 3s in the second half,” said Fudd. “I don’t know why I didn’t shoot much in the first half. I think we settled (down) more in the second half and we were able to run more stuff. My teammates got me open.”

Fudd squashed the comeback hopes with a 3-pointer from the wing that restored the double-digit advantage and put the game away.

“Not enough Tylenol for me to take after watching that,” Texas coach Vic Schaefer said of Fudd’s performance. “Long time since I’ve had a guard like that go off and light us up like that.”

Texas was missing guard Rori Harmon, who has been sidelined with a toe injury. Schaefer said that she is day to day and has a doctor’s appointment later this week. Harmon wore a walking boot on her right foot.

The Huskies were able to take advantage of Harmon’s absence, forcing Texas into 18 turnovers.

With the game tied at 32 late in the second quarter, the Huskies outscored the Longhorns 10-5 for the remainder of the half, converting three steals into fastbreak layups. There were 11 lead changes in the opening 20 minutes and the Huskies held a 42-37 advantage at the break.

Sonya Morris, who arrived at Texas as a graduate transfer from DePaul, led the Longhorns with 21 points.

“This was good for us to be in that type of game against a quality opponent,” Schaefer said.

FEELING BETTER:

UConn welcomed back Caroline Ducharme, who missed the opener with neck stiffness. The sophomore guard had two points in five minutes.

NOT SO FREE:

The teams had a rough night from the foul line, combining to go 19 for 38 (50%).

HONORING SWIN:

UConn retired former Huskies star Swin Cash’s No. 32 before the game. Cash is the third player in school history to have that honor, joining Rebecca Lobo and Ray Allen. The honor is only given to basketball alums who have been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Cash was enshrined in September.

Cash won two national championships at UConn in 2000 and 2002, before she was taken second in the WNBA draft.

UP NEXT

Texas: Plays Marquette in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament on Saturday.

UConn: Hosts No. 10 N.C. State on Sunday.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.

Star guard Paige Bueckers plans to play for UConn in 2023-24

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
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STORRS, Conn. – Paige Bueckers intends to play basketball in the 2023-24 season for Connecticut after recovering from an ACL injury that’s sidelined her this season.

Speaking on campus for the first time since being hurt, Bueckers was adamant in saying she will not enter the 2023 WNBA Draft and will return to play college ball.

“I’m not leaving. That is not in question,” the 21-year-old Bueckers said Thursday during a media availability. “People asked me, `What are you thinking about, fifth year, COVID year, redshirt this year?’ I’m not thinking too far ahead about that at all. But I will be playing college basketball again.”

Bueckers had an injury-marred 2021-22 season. She missed most of the season with tibial plateau fracture and lateral meniscus tear in her left knee. The Minnesota native returned for the NCAA tournament last spring and helped UConn to the title game, which it lost to No 1 South Carolina. In 17 games last season, Bueckers averaged 14.6 points.

Bueckers is expected to miss the upcoming season after she injured the same knee in a pickup game in early August. The national player of the year as a freshman had surgery four days later.

“I was going full speed and I sort of tried to come to a stop and there was some contact, not a lot of contact, but it just kind of gave out,” Bueckers said. “I knew it was bad. I felt a pop. And then I went to the training room and I was extremely frustrated. I didn’t know how serious it was, but I knew something was wrong.”

UConn’s Paige Bueckers suffers torn ACL, will miss upcoming season

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
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STORRS, Conn. — UConn women’s basketball star Paige Bueckers tore the ACL in her left knee during a pickup game and will miss the entire 2022-23 season.

UConn said in a statement that Bueckers suffered the injury and underwent an MRI. It did not say where the junior guard from Hopkins, Minnesota, was playing when the injury occurred. It was the same knee she injured last year, causing her to miss significant time.

In a statement posted on her Instagram account, Bueckers said she is leaning on her faith to move forward.

“It’s so so crazy because you work so hard to get back healthy, you feel stronger than ever, and you are playing your best basketball and with one sudden movement it all shifts,” she wrote. “It’s hard trying to make sense of it all now but I can’t help but think that God is using me as a testimony as to how much you can overcome with Him by your side.”

Bueckers was named the 2020-21 AP national player of the year, becoming the first freshman to earn that honor. She averaged 20.1 points, 5.9 assists and 2.3 steals per game that season.

She missed 19 games last season after suffering a left knee tibia plateau fracture and torn meniscus in early December. But Bueckers returned to lead the Huskies to the Final Four, where the Huskies lost to South Carolina in the championship game at Target Center in Minneapolis, which is 10 miles from her hometown.

She finished the season averaging 14.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game.

“We’re all devastated for Paige,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “She’s worked really hard to get stronger and healthier this offseason, and this is an unfortunate setback. Paige is obviously an amazing basketball player, but she’s a better person and teammate and it’s really unfortunate that this has happened to her. We’ll miss her presence on the court, but she’ll do everything she can to still lead and help her teammates this season. Our program will support Paige through her healing process to help her come back better and stronger.”

UConn said Bueckers will undergo surgery on Friday at UConn Health in Farmington.

“There is going to be good days and there is going to be bad days but my absolute love for the game and Godly strength will get me back to where I need to be,” Bueckers wrote. “I’ve worked too hard for the little kid in these pictures to keep going for the dreams I’ve had since I first picked up the ball, so why would I stop now? The prayers and love means so much to me and the doubts that I won’t get back to where I was might mean even more. God put a dream in my heart and even if I have to walk through a nightmare to get it I’m going to keep believing.”