BRIDGEPORT, Connecticut – By the time the first overtime was introduced Monday night in the 2022 NCAA Women’s Bridgeport Regional Final, the game was already an instant classic.
Never mind that top seed NC State Wolfpack and number two UConn will play another 10 minutes before the Huskies wrap up a trip to the Final Four with a 91-87 win in double overtime.
The two teams battle all night, as UConn seeks its 14th consecutive trip to the National Semifinals, and North Carolina State chases its first final since 1998.
It all adds up to one amazing game: two more times. Thirteen lead change. Nine relationships. The crowd at Total Mortgage Arena was roaring all night long as the teams swapped baskets.
Details have made this game the NCAA Women’s Championship so far. Even as the first two rounds were dominated by surprises and two of the 10 seed reached the Sweet 16, this was the game that captured the epitome of March Madness: two heavyweights battling for a chance to make it to Minneapolis and compete for a national championship.
This was a game where UConn was pretty much the 4 point favorite over the top seed in the region because This game was in Bridgeport, Connecticut, a stone’s throw from Ocon University’s campus in Storrs. Vivid Seats fan forecasts estimated that 84% of the audience was chanting for UConn, and every time the audience cheered after a key basket or forced spin, the noise felt like it had exploded in your chest.
But this was also a game where no matter which side you were on, you could feel your heart beating in your ears and a lump settling at the top of your throat. Because there were bets. Ocon hasn’t missed his fourth Final since 2009, and North Carolina State hasn’t been in 24 years. Wolfpack has been eliminated in three consecutive Sweet 16 episodes. Even as the upbeat music streamed through the speakers, the audience hardly applauded. Because who can clap rhythmically at a time like this?
Jakia Brown-Turner spins 3 pointers with 0.8 seconds left to keep NC alive.
This was a game if you thought it was over, you were wrong. UConn took an early lead by 10 points, but then it looked like NC State would repeat its Sweet 16 win over Notre Dame by rallying it to a late lead. Then UConn looked like he had the game in the bag… even NC State Jakia Brown Turner Hit corner 3 with less than a second on the clock to send it to a second overtime.
This was a game where the big players stepped up at key moments. Sophomore student at Okun University Big Bakers – National Player of the Year missed 19 games with a knee injury and only returned on Feb 25 – Hit the opening basket for second overtime, pull 3 pointers off the top of the key, and follow with a pull-up pullover slashed inside the arc, next possession. And with the season on the line for North Carolina, five behind, Kay Crutchfield Nicknamed “Clutchfield,” “Clutchfield” hit her third overtime indicator for an NC State draw in two with 3:03 left in the game.
This was a game where newcomers seized the moment. UConn Student Azzi Fd It spilled at 19 points, but brightened when the spotlight was at its height. With the clock waning in the fourth quarter, Fudd was there to get into a bucket when UConn needed him. With the Husky up by one with less than a minute left in the game, Fodd drove right, sucked into the NC State defense and, as she fell on her heels, picked up the ball for a sophomore High Edwardswhich he set up to extend UConn’s progress.
Kristen Williams scored in the final seconds of double overtime as UConn survived against North Carolina State to reach 14th in a row in the Final Four.
This was a game where everyone put their bodies to the test. The two teams battled in the paint all night, with Ocon scoring 40 points and North Carolina State 44. Under the cacophony of cheers and whistles, the sounds of shirts, leather, and sweat sliding against the hardwood were the beats. At the senior guards Evina Westbrook Finding herself stuck in an unfavorable match in the corridor, she reached out her fingertips to flip the ball to a teammate. And anyone who’s been on the block or trying to move across the lane is a human pinball. Cutters beware.
This was a match everyone deserved to win. When the time went to zero, the Bakers—the Minnesota native who finished the game with 27 points—crying victoriously to the crowd, a wolfpack huddled on the sidelines before walking off the field, four of them supposedly the last. Time in college, as the small section of fans proudly carried the Wolfpack brand in the air. Huskies, who wore their festive hats and shirts, were crowned regional champions. The zone’s best player, the Bueckers performed the dance known as the Griddy while her teammates bathed her in a confetti shower.
But as the players hugged each other and their families, and the remaining crowd demanded photos and autographs, one thing was clear.
This was a game to remember.
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