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UConn survives scare as NCAA Tournament heads to Sweet 16

Azzi Fudd led all scorers with 16 points. (Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

UConn advanced to the Sweet 16 after outdueling UCF on Monday. With the 52-47 win, the Huskies reach their NCAA record 28th consecutive Sweet 16.

In the next round, the Huskies will face Indiana, which edged Princeton in its own Round of 32 contest, at 2 p.m. ET Saturday with a spot in the Elite Eight on the line.

UConn eked out the win despite scoring the fewest points in an NCAA Tournament victory in program history. The Huskies shot a season-low 29.2 percent from the field, while UCF shot 34.8 percent.

The Knights jumped out to an eight-point lead early. UConn responded and held a 12-point lead midway through the fourth quarter, but the Knights pulled within three with less than a minute to go.

“Given the kind of season we’ve had, I thought I’d pretty much seen it all,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “But this was a rather new experience for me. It was what we thought it would be. It was going to be really difficult. It was going to be really ugly looking, and it was.

“And we could have just as easily let that game get away from us and we didn’t. There’s something to be said for that, that you can win a game that you probably would look back and say, ‘I’m not sure how we won that game, but we did.’”

The Huskies were just 2-of-12 on layup attempts, which left the door open for UCF. The Knights, though, struggled with free-throw shooting, going 10-for-20.

Foul trouble was also a factor, as three players — Olivia Nelson-Ododoa and Aaliyah Edwards from UConn and Alisha Lewis from UCF — fouled out before the end of the night. Two other UCF players committed four fouls, including UCF’s Brittney Smith, who had 11 points and five rebounds. Diamond Battles led the Knights with 12 points.

UConn’s Azzi Fudd led all scorers with 16 points, three steals and two blocks, while her teammate Christyn Williams added 12 points.

“We just tried to throw the first punch and keep punching them,” Williams said. “We didn’t have our best game today, but I’m really proud of our team. We grinded it out. It was very ugly, but we got the dub and that’s all that matters.”

Fudd said after the game that the “adversity we faced off the court” in addition to the Huskies’ tough schedule during the season helped them triumph on Monday. She also praised the sold-out crowd of 10,167 fans at Gampel Pavilion.

“The atmosphere was amazing,” said Fudd. “That’s definitely something I’ve never experienced to this kind of level. That made the game a lot of fun. I think that also helped with our momentum.”

No. 1 NC State 89, No. 9 Kansas State 57

Kayla Jones led all scorers with 18 points and five rebounds as Raina Perez and Diamond Johnson contributed 15 points apiece to lead the Wolfpack over the Wildcats.

No. 3 Michigan 64, No. 11 Villanova 49

Senior Naz Hillmon recorded her 50th career double-double with 27 points, 11 rebounds and five steals, while Leigha Brown added 20 points to help the Wolverines advance past Villanova and to the Sweet 16.

No. 5 Notre Dame 108, No. 4 Oklahoma 64

Four Irish players scored in double digits, including three with at least 20 points, to topple Oklahoma. Notre Dame senior Dara Mabrey led all scorers with 29 points, six rebounds and three assists.

No. 4 Tennessee 70, No. 12 Belmont 67

Tennessee narrowly escaped Belmont after Bruins guard Destinee Wells broke out for 22 points, six rebounds and four assists. The Volunteers were led by Alexus Dye, who had 20 points and 11 rebounds.

No. 6 Ohio State 79, No. 3 LSU 64

Ohio State took care of business behind a 23-point, eight-assist performance from Jacy Sheldon to upset the Tigers. LSU guard Khayla Pointer wasn’t going to go down without a fight, contributing 32 points and four assists in the loss.

No. 5 UNC 63, No. 4 Arizona 45

Arizona’s attempt to reach back-to-back title games is over. The Tar Heels were led by Kennedy Todd-Williams, who had 19 points and seven rebounds; Alyssa Utsby added 12 points and 12 rebounds in the win.

The Sweet 16 field features four teams each from the ACC and the Big Ten. The SEC, Big 12 and Big East each have two teams remaining. Stanford is the lone Pac-12 team left, while the Summit League has South Dakota in the tournament’s third round.

PWHL Draft Spurs Controversy for League Champs Minnesota

pwhl draft first pick Sarah Fillier
PWHL New York kicked off the 2024 PWHL Draft by selecting Princeton's Sarah Fillier No. 1 overall. (PWHL)

The 2024 PWHL Draft took place on Tuesday, with Princeton and Canadian national team forward Sarah Fillier going first overall to PWHL New York. 

New York also added two defenders and a goaltender, as well as three forwards to make seven solid additions to next season's roster. 

But it was first-ever PWHL champions Minnesota that created the most buzz, with the draft happening just three days after they announced the abrupt departure of general manager Natalie Darwitz following a league review. 

With the 10th overall pick, PWHL Minnesota took Team USA forward Britta Curl. Fans immediately took to the internet to voice their concerns, citing Curl's social media activity. In the past, Curl had "liked" posts on X that targeted the LGBTQIA+ community, particularly transgender individuals. Her activity also showed support for Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old Wisconsin man who fatally shot three unarmed people, two fatally, during a 2020 Black Lives Matter protest.

When asked about the pick — and whether or not he had consulted with any members of the LGBTQIA+ community prior to making the pick — PWHL Minnesota coach Ken Klee opted to defend Curl.

"Did I speak to anyone from the community? I talk with players, with coaches. That’s tough to answer for me," Klee said. "I spoke with a lot of different people. I mean, at the end of the day, I was told she’s a great teammate, a great person. She’s obviously a great player."

The team also had PWHL Minnesota assistant coach Mira Jalosuo, who is married to a woman, announce the pick.

"We have people in that community and obviously Mira making that selection for us, I think that speaks volumes for us," Klee added. "We were just trying to pick the best players available. I wouldn’t want anything to take away from any of those players' experience. It’s unfortunate a little bit at the beginning, but again, it’s okay. People are entitled to their opinion."

Washington Mystics Snap 12-Game Losing Streak

Brittney Sykes #20 of the Washington Mystics shoots the ball during the game against the Atlanta Dream during the 2024 WNBA Commissioner's Cup game on June 11, 2024
Washington guard Brittney Sykes returned from injury Tuesday night to post a game-high 18 points. (Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Washington Mystics snapped a team-record 12-game losing streak on Tuesday, taking home their first win of the season over the Atlanta Dream. 

Brittney Sykes returned from injury and made an immediate impact with game-high 18 points, four assists, and three rebounds. As a team, Washington shot over 50% from behind the arc.

"The feel is it's been coming," coach Eric Thibault said after the game. "I said the other night that we're turning into a good basketball team and we just haven't had the wins to show for it yet. We've been playing better basketball now for a while.

"We're obviously shooting well, but I think the quality of the shots we're getting is really good."

Still, the team’s slow start isn't exactly in the rearview mirror. With star forward Elena Delle Donne sitting this season out, the Mystics were always predicted to face an uphill climb in what has been described as a rebuilding year. 

But with a franchise-worst 0-12 record to kick off the 2024 season, the Mystics are likely on track for a lottery pick. However, Washington can point to positive performances from star draft pick Aaliyah Edwards and league newcomer Julie Vanloo.

Elsewhere in the WNBA, the Las Vegas Aces continued their skid with a surprising 100-86 upset courtesy of the Minnesota Lynx. The reigning WNBA champions were shorthanded this week, falling to 5-5 on the season despite MVP-level play from A'ja Wilson, who scored 28 points in Tuesday's loss.

Minnesota shot over 55% as a team, with Alanna Smith leading the team with 18 points. The game marked the Aces' first three-game losing streak since 2019.

"This is a long, long, long season," Wilson said in her postgame remarks. "I'm not going to press the panic button. I'm still going to bet on us. I know exactly what's in that locker room."

Aces stalwart Chelsea Gray has been out with injury since last year's WNBA Finals run. And while she told reporters on Tuesday that she's set to return before the Olympic break, the team can’t get her back soon enough as they continue to struggle with depth. 

"I don't want them thinking too much; then you get paralysis [by] analysis," coach Becky Hammon said. "We're just not being solid in our base. Just be solid defensively. We're not a very good team right now, that's just reality. But we know we can get better. I still have a lot of belief in this ball club."

USA Women’s Basketball Releases Olympic Roster, Explains Clark’s Omission

USA Women's Basketball's Diana Taurasi #12, Brittney Griner #15 and Sabrina Ionescu #6 at April's National Team Training Camp
All the players tapped for this year's Olympic roster have senior national team experience. (Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

USA Women's Basketball announced its official Olympic roster on Tuesday, with officials noting that Caitlin Clark’s lack of national team experience played a key role in her omission.

Selection committee chair Jen Rizzotti said that the committee evaluated players according to a set of on-court criteria they were given.

"When you base your decision on criteria, there were other players that were harder to cut because they checked a lot more boxes," she told reporters on Tuesday. "Then sometimes it comes down to position, style of play for [coach Cheryl Reeve] and then sometimes a vote."

Three first-time Olympians made the squad: Alyssa Thomas, Sabrina Ionescu, and Kahleah Copper. Additionally, Jackie Young and Kelsey Plum will make the switch to the national 5-on-5 team after winning gold in the inaugural 3×3 competition at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 

Age, Rizzotti said, was "never brought up" in player selection discussions. It’s the first time in Olympic history that a USA Women’s Basketball 5-on-5 team will travel to the Games without a single player under 26 years old.

Rizzotti commented that all the players tapped for this year's Olympic roster have senior national team experience, something that Clark does not have.

"She's certainly going to continue to get better and better," USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley added. "Really hope that she's a big part of our future going forward."

Rizzotti said it would have been "irresponsible" to base roster decisions on anything outside of a basketball context. Marketing and popularity were not on the selection committee’s list of criteria. 

"It would be irresponsible for us to talk about her in a way other than how she would impact the play of the team," Rizzotti said. "Because it wasn't the purview of our committee to decide how many people would watch or how many people would root for the US. It was our purview to create the best team we could for Cheryl."

Clark expressed that she'll be using what some consider a snub as fuel for a run at the 2028 Olympic team. 

"I think it just gives you something to work for," Clark told media after practice Sunday. "It's a dream. Hopefully one day I can be there. I think it's just a little more motivation. You remember that. Hopefully when four years comes back around, I can be there."

Watch more: "Were Caitlin Clark and Arike Ogunbowale snubbed?" on Expert Adjacent

Arsenal Women Confirm US Tour, Preseason Friendlies

Arsenal's Lotte Wubben-Moy battles with Mayra Ramirez of Chelsea at the 2023/24 FA Women's Continental Tyres League Cup Final
The last time Chelsea and Arsenal faced off, the Gunners took home the FA Women's League Cup. (Copa/Getty Images)

Arsenal announced on Monday that it will join Chelsea for a series of preseason friendlies in the US in August. 

Arsenal will be based in Washington, DC from August 15th through August 26th. The Gunners are scheduled to play the Washington Spirit on August 18th, followed by a match with fellow WSL team Chelsea on August 25th. It’s the first time that the two London clubs will meet each other on this side of the Atlantic. 

Chelsea had previously announced their game against Gotham FC, confirming reports from ESPN that surfaced last month.

"We always want to create the best conditions for our teams to prepare and perform at their best in pre-season," said Arsenal sporting director Edu Gaspar in a statement. "This gives our players an opportunity to play and train in a new environment, in front of our supporters around the world."

Both Arsenal and Chelsea tout rosters full of international talent — formidable opponents for two equally stacked NWSL teams gearing up for postseason action. Arsenal is home to accomplished England nationals Leah Williamson, Beth Mead, and backheel goal-scorer Alessia Russo alongside Ireland captain Katie McCabe and USWNT defender Emily Fox.

The games are set to be streamed live for free on DAZN.

Arsenal's US tour builds off of a trip to Melbourne, Australia at the tail end of the 2023/24 season, where they beat A-League All Stars women 1-0 in front of 42,120 fans.

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