UConn defeats Stanford to move on to 2022 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship

UConn's Paige Bueckers screams while helping Aaliyah Edwards to her feet during the Huskies NCAA semifinal win against Stanford
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In the second Final Four semifinal on Friday night, the No. 2 UConn Huskies defeated the No. 1 Stanford Cardinal to advance to Sunday’s 2022 NCAA women’s basketball championship game. Throughout the game, On Her Turf provided live updates and highlights. See below to relive how the semifinal unfolded.

South Carolina vs. UConn in the 2022 national championship game: How to watch, live updates


Stanford vs. UConn – Women’s Final Four – Semifinal #2

Stanford starting lineup:

  • Anna Wilson (G)
  • Lexie Hull (G)
  • Cameron Brink (F)
  • Lacie Hull (G)
  • Haley Jones (G)

UConn starting lineup:

  • Aaliyah Edwards (F)
  • Paige Bueckers (G)
  • Christyn Williams (G)
  • Olivia Nelson-Ododa (F)
  • Azzi Fudd (G)

UConn vs. Stanford – First quarter live updates:

9:33 1Q: Semifinal #2 is underway. UConn gets onto the board first thanks to a jumper from Christyn Williams.

8:07 1Q: And Paige Bueckers makes it 4-0. Given how well she’s been playing in the last couple games, it’s hard to remember that she missed 19(!) games this season due to injury.

0:00 1Q: At the end of the first quarter, UConn leads 12-9. Pretty balanced offense from the Huskies; Paige Bueckers, Aaliyah Edwards, Christyn Williams, and Azzi Fudd all have at least two points so far.

UConn vs. Stanford – Highlights from the second quarter:

6:50 2Q: Just over 13 minutes into this game and the score is … 12-11? Don’t think I would have predicted such a low-scoring game between these two teams.

6:29 2Q: And UConn’s Evina Westbrook makes it 15-11 with a beautiful three-pointer.

2:47 3Q: Daaaamn. Evina Westbrook with her third three-pointer of the quarter (video below). UConn leads 25-19.

1:55 2Q: Beautiful play from Stanford that concludes with Hannah Jump scoring a three-pointer (video below). The Cardinal is narrowing the gap, now trail UConn by one point, 24-25.

1:20 2Q: And Stanford takes its first lead of the game, Haley Jones putting the Cardinal up 26-25.

0:00 2Q: At the end of the first half, UConn leads with a score of 27-26. “We’re taking the right shots, we’ve just got to hit,” Stanford’s Haley Jones tells ESPN’s Holly Rowe before heading to the locker room.

In other news… shoutout to The Next for providing this highlight from what happened on the floor of the Target Center during halftime:

Stanford vs. UConn – Third quarter updates:

5:48 3Q: Aaliyah Edwards with a great offensive rebound to put UConn up 34-31.

0:59 3Q: Successive baskets from Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Christyn Williams give UConn a 39-35 lead…

0:34 3Q: … but Stanford’s Cameron Brink makes sure the Huskies don’t pick up too much momentum. Brink makes it a two-point game again.

0:00 3Q: At the end of the third quarter, UConn leads with a score of 39-37.


Stanford vs. UConn – Highlights from the fourth quarter:

9:18 4Q: Great play by UConn. Paige Bueckers with beauty of a pass to Olivia Nelson-Ododa, who spins… and scores (video below). *Chef’s kiss.*

7:35 4Q: Oof. Fourth foul of the night for Cameron Brink, including two in the last 30 seconds. She subs out.

5:39 4Q: Paige Bueckers with a huge steal and layup (video below). She extends UConn’s lead, 49-41.

3:13 4Q: Paige Bueckers subs back in… Unclear if she’s at 100%, though, especially after a hard fall a few minutes ago.

1:15 4Q: Is it just me or have these last few minutes been… strange? That includes Connecticut turning it over with a mistake on an inbound.

0:55 4Q: After a turnover from Azzi Fudd, Lacie Hull scores a HUGE three-pointer for Stanford. Three-point game, the Cardinal trail 51-54.

0:24 4Q: Haley Jones makes it a two-point game (video below).

0:00 4Q: It wasn’t the prettiest basketball game of all time, but UConn got the job done. The Huskies defeat Stanford with a final score of 63-58. UConn will face South Carolina in Sunday’s NCAA women’s basketball championship game.


Women’s Final Four: What’s at stake for Stanford and UConn in tonight’s semifinal:

  • Stanford women’s basketball team arrives in Minneapolis as the defending NCAA champion. The Cardinal has made it to the women’s basketball national championship game five previous times in program history, going on to win three national titles (1990, 1992, 2021).
  • While this is UConn’s 14th straight Final Four appearance, the Huskies haven’t made the NCAA women’s basketball championship game since 2016. That year, UConn won a fourth straight NCAA title.

How to watch UConn vs. Stanford in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four

Teams

Time (ET)

TV Channel

Location

No. 1 Stanford vs. No. 2 UConn 9:30 p.m. ESPN Minneapolis, Minnesota

Follow Alex Azzi on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC

Crystal Dunn returns to USWNT roster five months after giving birth

Nigeria v USWNT
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Crystal Dunn was named to the USWNT roster for two upcoming friendlies against England and Spain, marking her first official selection since giving birth to son Marcel in May.

Dunn made her NWSL return with the Portland Thorns earlier this month and also trained with the U.S. team as a non-rostered player ahead of friendlies vs. Nigeria.

In addition to Dunn, the 24-player roster features a veteran core of Alyssa Naeher, Becky Sauerbrunn, Rose Lavelle, Lindsey Horan, Mallory Pugh, and Megan Rapinoe.

Alex Morgan was not named to the USWNT roster due to a knee injury. While U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski did not provide details of the injury, he noted that “if this was a World Cup final, Alex was going to be on this trip and was going to play, no question.”

Other roster highlights include 17-year-old Alyssa Thompson, who becomes the first player born in 2004 to receive a USWNT call-up. Thomas, a high senior, plays club soccer for the U-17 Total Futbol Academy boys’ team.

“We are very excited for her, very excited about her potential and qualities and looking forward to seeing how she will turn out in our environment,” Andonovski said of Thompson. “This camp is not make it or break it. It’s a first experience for her, it’s just something that she shouldn’t even worry about.”

The USWNT also includes a handful of players who have made their USWNT breakthrough this season — thanks in part to both strong NWSL play and injuries to more veteran players. That list includes the likes of Naomi Girma (7 caps), Taylor Kornieck (5 caps), Hailie Mace (5 caps), Sam Coffey (1 cap), and Savannah DeMelo (0 caps).

Andonovski on Thursday called Coffey, a midfielder for the Portland Thorns, a candidate for NWSL MVP.


USWNT Roster for October 2022 Friendlies vs. England and Spain

Goalkeepers (3):

  • Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit)
  • Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage)
  • Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

Defenders(7):

  • Alana Cook (OL Reign)
  • Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC)
  • Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC)
  • Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC)
  • Sofia Huerta (OL Reign)
  • Hailie Mace (Kansas City Current)
  • Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC)

Midfielders (8):

  • Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC)
  • Savannah DeMelo (Racing Louisville FC)
  • Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon, FRA)
  • Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC)
  • Rose Lavelle (OL Reign)
  • Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC)
  • Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit)
  • Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit)

Forwards (6):

  • Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit)
  • Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars)
  • Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign)
  • Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit)
  • Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC)
  • Alyssa Thompson (Total Futbol Academy)

Follow Alex Azzi on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC

Justine Wong-Orantes’ atypical path to becoming one of the best liberos in the world

Justine Wong-Orantes hits the ball in the women's semi-final volleyball match between USA and Serbia during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
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It’s been 20 years since the same nation held both the Olympic and world volleyball titles at the same time, but libero Justine Wong-Orantes is looking to help lead Team USA accomplish that very feat at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championships in the Netherlands and Poland. Competition began on Friday and the U.S. is currently 2-0 after group play wins against Kazakhstan and Canada.

“We’re trying to win, for sure,” Wong-Orantes told On Her Turf. “I think, especially with the new turn of the program and the new year of the quad, we just have a really nice blend of veterans and also newcomers on the team.”

The 14-woman roster for Team USA, which is ranked No. 1 in the world and won its first Olympic title last summer, features six players from that gold-medal-winning team. And while Wong-Orantes is among the 2021 U.S. Olympic team veterans, she’s still a relative newcomer to international play.

The Southern California native enjoyed a notable junior career – she was 12 when she became the youngest female to ever earn an AAA rating in beach volleyball – and was a standout collegian at Nebraska, where she was a member of the 2015 NCAA championship team. But Wong-Orantes followed a different path upon graduation, initially choosing not to go overseas to play professionally.

While she was first selected for the U.S. national team in 2016 and played a handful of international tournaments in the following years, it wasn’t until she started playing professionally in Germany in 2019 that she saw the potential to elevate her position on the roster. In particular, the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics gave her an additional year of overseas experience, which she calls “a blessing in disguise.”

“I just felt like I was still in that developmental stage,” she said. “And a whole year postponement allowed me to go overseas and really get all the touches, all the repetitions, and just kind of expose myself to international volleyball another year. So I was, in hindsight, pretty thankful for that COVID season because I got an extra year under my belt, and I think that just gave me a ton of confidence.”

Ahead of the Olympics, Wong-Orantes earned “best libero” honors at the 2021 FIVB Volleyball National League in Rimini, Italy, which helped secure her spot on the Olympic roster. In Tokyo, she followed up with another standout performance and was named best libero of the Olympic tournament.

As to how the Wong-Orantes transformed into one of the world’s top liberos, she points to her background as a beach volleyball player. She began competing at age 8, and her first partner was Sara Hughes, a star on the AVP Pro Tour who also won two NCAA titles with USC.

“I think having that background and just the court awareness that beach volleyball forces you to have allowed me to really have a good read on the game,” said Wong-Orantes. “I think that’s what makes a great libero is just reading and always being reactive towards the ball.”

Wong-Orantes also credits the assistance of mental coach Sue Enquist, a former UCLA softball coach and U.S. national team coach, who now helps teams work on their culture and relationships. Enquist began working with the U.S. volleyball team during the pandemic and has continued in her role ever since.

“We just worked on a lot of stuff within ourselves, within our program, how to communicate with each other off the court, and I think that honestly propelled us into such a high, high level with how we worked with each other, and then that transferred onto the court,” explained Wong-Orantes, who noted the team has Enquist on speed dial while at the World Championship. “I really commend Sue. I just really give a lot of praise to her because I think our culture was never bad, but I think [she] just transformed into a different level.”

2022-09-26 - FIVB Volleyball Womens World Championship 2022 - Day 4
ARNHEM, NETHERLANDS – Justine Wong-Orantes (far right) poses for a photo with her U.S. teammates after defeating Canada at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship on September 26, 2022. (Photo by Rene Nijhuis/Orange Pictures/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

Wong-Orantes said she and her U.S. teammates are on their toes for the world championships, which features twice as many teams (24) as the Olympics and a “more grueling” format.

“It’s going to be a long tournament, and I think we’re really going to need all 14 of us that are here. I’m pretty certain that, at any given moment, someone’s going to be called on and someone’s going to need to step up in big moments.”