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As injuries ravage roster, who are UConn’s 7 available players?

Aubrey Griffin has stepped up for UConn after missing all of last season following back surgery. (M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Gray zip-up sweat suits and long, flowing hair tucked behind ears have replaced jerseys and slicked back ponytails for much of the UConn roster. Paige Bueckers, Ice Brady, Azzi Fudd, Dorka Juhász and Nika Mühl sat side by side on Sunday as the Huskies fell to Maryland for the first time ever, 85-78.

Injuries have piled up through the first month of the season and depleted the team’s depth. And now, as they wait for Juhász, Mühl and Fudd to return (Bueckers and Brady are out for the season), the Huskies are down to just seven available players.

Even with key pieces of the roster confined to the bench, the Huskies still stuck with Maryland for much of the contest. As improbable as that seems, it comes down to one simple fact: UConn is still UConn. Bench players are still five-star recruits, and those who barely sniff the court would be starters on other teams. That’s how the Huskies have remained a dynasty for the last four decades.

Mühl and Juhász should be healthy in the near future, while Fudd’s comeback is slated for January. As we wait for the Huskies to return to full strength, let’s get to know the available players they’ll be running out on the court until then.

Aaliyah Edwards, F, junior

Fans are likely already familiar with Edwards, who started most of UConn’s games last season and was key to getting the Huskies to the national championship game. Even before injuries stretched UConn’s roster, the 6-foot-3 junior had taken on a bigger role this season. Now, as other players adjust to more responsibility, Edwards is a steadying force amid the chaos.

She’s playing 30.3 minutes per game and averaging a double-double with 15.5 points, 11 rebounds and 2.5 assists. Edwards is also making the most of her shot attempts, shooting 63.2 percent from the field, a mark that puts her in the top 25 of all NCAA players.

Aubrey Griffin, F, junior

The redshirt junior was absent last season after a back injury required season-ending surgery. Prior to that, the former McDonald’s All-American averaged about six points and five rebounds through her first two seasons. Griffin was poised for a big 2021-22 campaign before the injury, and she is picking up where she left off this year.

An athletic 6-1 guard, Griffin thrives in transition and exploiting defensive mismatches for the Huskies, making her an asset to their offensive rotation. The forward has started seven games for UConn this season and is averaging 13.7 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Her best performance came in a tight contest with Princeton last week. After Mühl exited the game with a head injury, Griffin gave her team the lift it needed to secure a win, finishing with 29 points on a perfect 11-for-11 from the field.

Lou Lopez-Sénéchal, G/F, grad

One of UConn’s biggest strengths is the program’s ability to recruit the best players, no matter where they come from. While the Huskies tend to attract the top high-school prospects, the staff also hunts for players from overseas and the transfer market — or both, in Lopez-Sénéchal’s case.

During her final season at Fairfield, the 6-1 multi-position player averaged 19.5 points and 4.6 rebounds per game and was named the MAAC Player of the Year. After a successful four-year career with the Stags, Lopez-Sénéchal, who hails from France, transferred to Storrs and adjusted quickly to UConn’s system. In Fudd’s absence, she’s leading the Huskies with 17.3 points per game while shooting an efficient 50 percent from the field and 95 percent from the free-throw line.

Caroline Ducharme, G, sophomore

Another five-star recruit, Ducharme is one of the highest-ranked prospects on UConn’s roster, coming in as the No. 5 player in the country last season. But Ducharme’s journey hasn’t been easy: Despite UConn’s bench full of injured players, her career may be the one most affected by injuries. In high school, the 6-2 guard missed nearly two seasons with an ACL tear and a torn labrum. This year, she’s also battled neck stiffness that’s plagued her since the offseason.

Ducharme is only scratching the surface of her abilities right now, averaging 9.8 points per game last season and 6.2 in five appearances this year. The Gatorade Massachusetts Player of the Year in 2020-21, Ducharme averaged 21 points, 15.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 4.5 steals per game as a high school senior.

Inês Bettencourt, G, freshman

Easily the most unknown player on the roster, Bettencourt was heading to junior college in Florida when Bueckers’ season-ending ACL tear left UConn in need of another guard. Coach Geno Auriemma joked that the flight to Bettencourt’s home country of Portugal took longer than the recruiting process because it all happened so quickly. The guard decided to come to UConn without having seen the campus and, after averaging 1.8 minutes per game to start the season, was thrust into the starting lineup Sunday for the first time. Bettencourt finished with two points, three rebounds and two assists in 29 minutes, looking relatively comfortable in her role against a top-20 team.

Ayanna Patterson, F, freshman

The freshman recorded a career-high 10 points against Maryland, topping her previous high of six against Duke on Nov. 25. Patterson has played in all nine of UConn’s games this season. While her minutes have increased with the injuries, including a career-high 21 on Dec. 2, she was likely to get playing time this season regardless.

Patterson came to UConn already knowing how to win at a high level, with a 2021 U18 World Cup 3×3 gold medal to her name. A 6-2 forward with versatile skills and strength, Patterson won Indiana’s Miss Basketball award as a high school senior and was ranked as the No. 4 player and No. 1 wing in the Class of 2022. She has some developing left to do, but Patterson should be a crucial player for UConn for the next four seasons.

Amari DeBerry, F, sophomore

Another five-star recruit, DeBerry has yet to find her footing at UConn, but the talent is clearly there. A monster block against Shyanne Sellers that DeBerry palmed out of the air was the highlight of the sophomore’s game against Maryland. It’s also the kind of brilliance that DeBerry has showcased in flashes during her 23 appearances over the last two seasons.

Most of the 6-5 forward’s minutes have come in garbage time this season, but DeBerry’s skills are hard to ignore. In addition to the eye-catching block, the sophomore stepped in against Notre Dame and hit a 3-pointer on her first touch of the game, showcasing her versatility and ability to stretch the floor.

Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.

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.

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