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UConn women’s basketball 2021 UConn women39;s basketball without starting guard Nika Muhl for .

UConn women's basketball 2021 UConn women39;s basketball without starting guard Nika Muhl for .

UConn women’s basketball 2021 UConn women39;s basketball without starting guard Nika Muhl for .

UConn women’s basketball UConn women’s basketball basketball women's … without guard Nika starting for Muhl UConn

Sat, 27 Mar 2021 12:00:00 -0700

Nika Muhl sprained her right ankle in the Huskies' first-round game against High Point

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She did not play against Syracuse on Tuesday and did not suit up 

SAN ANTONIO — The UConn women’s basketball team will be without Nika Muhl for its second straight NCAA Tournament game.

Muhl exited the Huskies’ first-round game against High Point in the second quarter after spraining her right ankle.

She did not play against Syracuse on Tuesday and did not suit up Saturday for the Iowa Sweet 16 game.

Geno Auriemma and Chris Dailey sounded hopeful that Muhl would be well enough to play by the time the Huskies’ Sweet 16 game against Iowa rolled around.

Auriemma said Thursday that Muhl was “way better” than she was on Tuesday and that he expected her to be way better Saturday.

Muhl has been a spark for the Huskies since being inserted into the starting lineup in early February, averaging 5.0 points, 2.8 assists, 2.4 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game.

Against Syracuse, UConn started fellow freshman Aaliyah Edwards in Muhl’s absence, and she finished with 19 points, five rebounds and four assists.

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UConn women’s basketball UConn women’s basketball

Sat, 27 Mar 2021 12:00:00 -0700

UConn simply had too much firepower for Iowa to contain in Saturday's Sweet 16 game

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In an attempt to slow down the runaway storyline regarding Saturday’s freshmen showdown, Caitlin Clark emphasized this week that top-seeded Connecticut has “more than just Paige Bueckers.”

Iowa got a front-row seat to exactly that. 

With Clark and Bueckers short on first-half buckets, this Sweet 16 matchup quickly became a battle of which team had more outside its freshmen phenoms.

That honor went to the Huskies, which simply brought too much firepower for Iowa to handle.

The end result was a 92-72 UConn win at the Alamodome in San Antonio. 

With many viewing this as a UConn rout waiting to happen, the Hawkeyes held on longer than most Huskies’ opponents have through this dominant run.

However, Iowa was always going to need a flawless product to make UConn nervous.

The Hawkeyes showed their worth in spurts, climbing within single digits three times in the third quarter and twice in the fourth.

But all the Huskies weren’t going to stay quiet on this day. 

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All-Big East guard Christyn Williams took control with 27 points on 12-for-23 shooting.

Evina Westbrook more than doubled her season scoring average with 17 points. Aaliyah Edwards had no trouble transitioning to the starting lineup.

Those reinforcements gave Bueckers time to heat up — and she did en route to 18 points.

 

To her credit, Clark did too.

After a 2-for-11 first half where her only trey was an awkward bank shot, the Dowling Catholic product erupted for 12 third-quarter points.

She ended a decorated freshman season with 21 on 7-for-21 shooting.   

Offensive help came in bunches from McKenna Warnock, who poured in a season-high 20 points with three treys.

Gabbie Marshall re-discovered her shooting touch with three first-half 3-pointers.

And Monika Czinano added 14 despite an afternoon-long battle down low. 

More:Ben Jacobson on UNI’s Arch Madness cancellation: ‘A huge mistake’

If anything, these Hawkeyes proved they can score with anyone.

But a 42-25 deficit on the boards, which contributed to UConn’s 14 second-chance points, gave the Huskies too many extended possessions.

That’s a losing combination against this women’s basketball giant.

The game eventually got away from Iowa in the fourth quarter.

It’s a tough ending to an Iowa season full of progress.

The Hawkeyes weren’t supposed to sniff the NCAA Tournament, much less March Madness’ second weekend.

Clark has a storied season under her belt, and Bluder has a star to build around.

This upward trajectory should continue into next season.  

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen.

Email him at msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.

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– March 27, 2021

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