All Scores

Don’t Look Now, but UCONN Looks Ready to Contend Once Again


Stopped me if you’ve heard this one before, but UConn is once again poised to win multiple national championships. It may not start this next year — the landscape is far too precarious for any confident predictions — but championships are coming.

The squad is young and new, with just four returning players and no seniors. Evina Westbrook, who sat out last year after transferring from Tennessee, will lead six freshmen seeing the court for the first time.

The last time UConn had as many first-year players on its roster was 1988, when it won its first (of 18) Big East titles. This year will mark the return of UConn to the conference it made famous and is ready to dominate once again.

Then, as now, the young players are a source of optimism. Still, UConn will need its older players to step up. Juniors Christyn Williams and Olivia Nelson-Ododa will anchor any success UConn finds.

“We have been taking up that leadership role,” Williams said. “It’s a lot more responsibility, it’s been different. The younger players have a willingness to learn, and are competitive. They’ve made it easier for us.”

Williams is one of four top-ranked high school recruits to have signed with UConn in the past five classes. The others are Paige Bueckers, who is widely expected to have a standout freshman season, and Azzi Fudd, who will join UConn next year.

“There is a direct correlation between if you sign those guys, at Connecticut anyway, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to be an amazing team for a couple of years,” Auriemma said. “Yes, that is a great possibility. Our track record proves that.”

Before last season was cut short, UConn was a lock to enter the tournament as a No. 1 seed. Since then, Megan Walker left early for the WNBA and Crystal Dangerfield graduated before going on to win WNBA Rookie of the Year with the Minnesota Lynx. Seniors Molly Bent, Evelyn Adebayo, Kyla Irwin and Batouly Camara also graduated.

Along with Bueckers, the freshman class also features guard Autumn Chassion, forward Aaliyah Edwards, guard Nika Muhl, forward Mir McLean and forward Piath Gabriel. This group is widely expected to put the Huskies over the edge. Already, Geno Auriemma has been impressed with Edwards, the second highest rated player in the class, and Muhl, whose experience is bolstered by time in the Adriatic League in Croatia, where she led the league with 6.2 assists per game in 2019.

”There are times that Aaliyah and Nika look like they’ve been playing college basketball for awhile. They fit right in,” Auriemma said. ”They slide right in. So Paige, Nika, and Aaliyah mix really well with our returning players. Mir, once in a while, Piath less, Autumn less. But everyone has gotten better.”

Aaliyah Edwards plays a physical game and has been likened to Napheesa Collier by Christyn Williams. Piath Gabriel, at 6-foot-5 freshman, was not a top-end prospect, but UConn’s coaches clearly saw something. And Mir McLean is athletic and versatile, but will probably be a spark off of the bench this season.

The notoriously difficult coach has a team voted the 3rd-best in the preseason. Williams will still be running the show after posting 14.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game in her sophomore season, but should have more to offer if given the opportunity. The next of the four returners is Nelson-Ododa, a 6-foot-5 center who played a lot of minutes last season, even if they were not always the most predictive. Still, she was able to record 100 blocks last year, the eight-most in school history.

Aubrey Griffin had 5.4 rebounds per game but struggled with consistency. Anna Makurat will be tasked with spacing the floor as a catch-and-shoot 3-point shooter, where she averaged 7.9 points and 3.3 assists per game last year.

Then there is Westbrook, who also has some stroke from distance — she shot 38% from deep in the 2018-19 season. Still, she is recovering from knee surgery and has never played for UConn, so expectations for the redshirt junior should be kept in flux.

Of course, the team’s ceiling may depend on Bueckers. She was tabbed as the preseason Big East Freshman of the Year, but as she will be the first to say, it’s far too early to celebrate.

“I haven’t even done anything yet, I haven’t even stepped foot on a college court,” Bueckers said. “I have a lot to prove. I have a lot to work on.”

The good news is, she has some time—but not as much as you’d think.

While the 2020-2021 season may be a bit too hectic for even the sport’s most talented freshman to conquer, starting next year, with Azzi Fudd joining a more experienced Huskies squad, the expectation will be championships, plural.

That’s welcome news for Husky fans. For everyone else, well, we can try to enjoy at least this season.

USWNT to face Costa Rica in final Olympic send-off

uswnt sophia smith and tierna davidson celebrate at shebeilves cup 2024
The USWNT will play their final pre-Olympic friendly against Costa Rica on July 16th. (Photo by Greg Bartram/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

U.S. Soccer announced Tuesday that the USWNT will play their last home game on July 16th in the lead-up to the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris.

The 2024 Send-Off Match against Costa Rica will take place at Washington, DC’s Audi Field — home to both the Washington Spirit and DC United — at 7:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, July 16th. The friendly rounds out a four-game Olympic run-up campaign under incoming head coach Emma Hayes’ side, with the last two set to feature the finalized 2024 U.S. Olympic Women’s Soccer Team roster.

Hayes will appear on the USWNT sideline for the first time this June, helming the team as they embark on a two-game series against Korea Republic hosted by Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado on June 1st followed by Allianz Stadium in St. Paul, Minnesota on June 4th. 

The team is then scheduled to meet a talented Mexico squad on July 13th at Gotham FC’s Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, where the Olympic-bound lineup will attempt to rewrite February’s shocking 2-0 loss to El Tri Femenil in the group stages of this year’s Concacaf W Gold Cup. And while clear roster favorites have emerged from both of this year’s Gold Cup and SheBelives Cup rosters, a spate of recent and recurring injuries means making it to the Olympics is still largely anyone’s game.

Broadcast and streaming channels for the USWNT's final July 16th friendly at Audi Field include TNT, truTV, Universo, Max, and Peacock.

Caitlin Clark’s WNBA start to serve as 2024 Olympic tryout

Clark of the Indiana Fever poses for a photo with Lin Dunn and Christie Sides during her introductory press conference on April 17, 2024
The talented Fever rookie is still in the running for a ticket to this summer's Paris Olympics. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

The USA Basketball Women's National Team is still considering Caitlin Clark for a spot on the Paris Olympics squad, says selection committee chair Jennifer Rizzotti. 

On Monday, Rizzotti told the AP that the committee will be evaluating the college phenom’s Olympic prospects by keeping a close eye on her first few weeks of WNBA play with Indiana.

The move is somewhat unconventional. While Clark was invited to participate in the 14-player national team training camp held earlier this month — the last camp before Team USA’s roster drops — she was unable to attend due to it coinciding with Iowa’s trip to the NCAA Women’s Final Four.

Judging by the immense talent spread throughout the league in what might be their most hyped season to date, competition for a piece of the Olympic pie could be fiercer than ever before.

"You always want to introduce new players into the pool whether it's for now or the future," said Rizzotti. "We stick to our principles of talent, obviously, positional fit, loyalty and experience. It's got to be a combination of an entire body of work. It's still not going to be fair to some people."

Of course, Clark isn’t the first rookie the committee has made exceptions for. Coming off an exceptional college season that saw her averaging 19.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 4 assists per game for UConn, Breanna Stewart was tapped to represent the U.S. at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil less than two weeks after being drafted No. 1 overall by the Seattle Storm. Eight years prior, fellow No. 1 pick Candace Parker punched her ticket to the 2008 Games in Beijing just two weeks after making her first appearance for the L.A. Sparks.

In the lead-up to Paris’ Opening Ceremony on July 26th, USA Basketball Women’s National Team is scheduled to play a pair of exhibition games. They'll first go up against the WNBA's finest at the July 20th WNBA All-Star Game in Phoenix before facing Germany in London on July 23rd.

While an official roster announcement date hasn’t yet been issued, players won’t find out if they’ve made this year’s Olympic cut until at least June 1st.

WNBA teams make history with 2024 season ticket sell-outs

Arike Ogunbowale on the wnba court for the dallas wings
The Dallas Wings are now the third team to sell out their entire season ticket allotment in WNBA history. (Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images)

For the first time in history, three different WNBA teams have completely sold out of season ticket plans well before the league's May 14th kick-off.

Call it the Caitlin Clark effect, attribute it to this year’s tenacious rookie class, or look to the skyrocketing visibility of veteran players across the board. But no matter the cause, facts are facts: Tickets to the 2024 WNBA season are selling like never before. 

On Monday, the Dallas Wings became the third team to sell out of season ticket memberships in the league’s 27-year history. The announcement from Arlington came shortly after the Atlanta Dream issued their own season ticket sell-out statement, also on Monday, and almost seven weeks after the back-to-back WNBA Champion Las Vegas Aces made headlines by becoming the first-ever WNBA team to sell out their season ticket allotment.   

According to the Wings, season ticket memberships will fill nearly 40% of the 6,251 seats inside their home arena, College Park Center. The club also said that their overall ticket revenue has ballooned to the tune of 220% this year, spanning not just season tickets but also a 1,200% increase in single ticket sales. There’s currently a waitlist to become a Dallas season ticket holder, a status that comes with extra incentives like playoff presale access and discounts on additional single-game tickets. 

In Atlanta, season tickets aren't the only thing flying off the shelves. The Dream also announced that they broke their own record for single-game ticket sales during a recent limited presale campaign. Sunday was reportedly their most lucrative day, with five different games totally selling out Gateway Center Arena. Individual tickets for all upcoming matchups will hit the market this Thursday at 8 a.m., while a waitlist for season ticket memberships will open up next Tuesday at 10 a.m.

"Excitement around women's sports, particularly basketball, is at an all-time high and nowhere is that felt more than here in Atlanta," Dream president and COO Morgan Shaw Parker said in the team’s statement. "We’ve continued a record-setting growth trajectory over the past three years under new ownership — both on and off the court — and 2024 is shaping up to be our best season yet."

As of Tuesday, season ticket sales revenue for Caitlin Clark’s hotly anticipated Indiana Fever debut haven’t yet been announced by the club. But if these numbers are any indication — not to mention the explosive demand for Fever away games felt by teams around the country — it won’t be long before we see some scale-tipping figures coming out of Indianapolis.

Nelly Korda ties LPGA record with fifth-straight tournament win

Nelly Korda of the United States celebrates with the trophy after winning The Chevron Championship
Nelly Korda poses with her trophy after acing her fifth-straight tour title at The Chevron Championship on Sunday. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

25-year-old American pro golfer Nelly Korda secured her spot in LPGA history on Sunday, notching her fifth-straight title at this weekend's Chevron Championship in The Woodlands, Texas.

Ranked No. 1 in the world by Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, Korda joins Nancy Lopez (1978) and Annika Sörenstam (2005) as just the third LPGA player to rack up five consecutive tour wins. She is also the third No. 1-ranked player to capture The Chevron Championship victory since the rankings debuted in 2006, accompanied by Lorena Ochoa and Lydia Ko.

The Florida native shot three-under 69 in Sunday's final, besting Sweden's Maja Stark despite Stark's valiant come-from-behind attempt in the 18th. Korda finished with a four-day total of 13-under 275, celebrating her two-stroke win by cannonballing into Poppie's Pond, much to the crowd's delight. She left The Club at Carlton Woods with $1.2 million from an overall purse of $7.9 million.

It wasn't long ago that the two-time major champion's current winning streak seemed unimaginable. After maintaining her No. 1 position for 29 weeks, Korda underwent surgery to remove a blood clot from her left arm in 2022. She returned to the course not long after, but failed to win a single tournament in 2023 before seeing a surge in form during the first four months of 2024. As of today, she hasn't lost a tournament since January.

Korda will attempt a record sixth-straight win at next week's JM Eagle LA Championship at Wilshire Country Club in Los Angeles, where she'll vie for a cut of the $3.75 million purse.

Start your morning off right with Just Women’s Sports’ free, 5x-a-week newsletter.