ALBANY, N.Y. — Geno Auriemma and the UConn Huskies are in a familiar place – the Elite Eight.

Napheesa Collier had 16 points and 11 rebounds to help top-seed UConn beat Duke 72-59 on Saturday and advance to the regional finals for the 13th consecutive season.

The Huskies’ senior duo of Gabby Williams and Kia Nurse was key on the defensive end to help UConn take control in the first half.

“We’re fortunate that our two seniors are two of the better defensive players in the country,” Auriemma said. “We can count on those two every game. Gabby’s going to play great every game. She plays at a certain level every game. Kia’s one of the toughest competitors we’ve had at Connecticut.”

UConn (35-0) will face defending national champion South Carolina on Monday night as it tries to reach a record 11th straight Final Four.

Williams finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists, and Katie Lou Samuelson also scored 15 points. Nurse had 10 points.


The Huskies scored the first seven points of the game, beginning with a banked-in 3-pointer from Nurse.

Duke had only given up an average of 49 points in its first two tournament games. UConn passed that total by the end of the third quarter, much to the delight of the partisan crowd of 10,658.

Fifth-seed Duke (24-9) was only down seven early in the second quarter, but then the Blue Devils went cold from the field, going scoreless over the next five minutes as UConn extended its advantage to 30-16.

UConn later scored the final eight points of the half, including a pullup by Williams just before the halftime buzzer to give UConn a 40-20 lead.

Duke closed the gap to 44-31 midway through the third quarter but didn’t score for the rest of the quarter, and UConn rebuilt the 20-point advantage.

“You’ve got to be prepared for the whole 40 minutes,” said Duke Coach Joanne P. McCallie. “UConn is good at responding to that. You’ve got to keep going and have immediacy and smarts. … We did in circumstances, but we couldn’t get it across the board. They have too much experience not to, especially with Gabby and Nurse, they have too much experience.”


The game also featured Huskies center Azura Stevens going against her former team. She transferred to UConn after her sophomore season. Stevens had eight points and 12 rebounds.

SOUTH CAROLINA 79, BUFFALO 63: Alexis Jennings scored 20 points, A’ja Wilson added 20 points and 13 rebounds, and second-seeded South Carolina (29-6) held off the 11th-seeded Bulls (29-6) to keep alive its quest to defend its national title.

South Carolina’s dominance inside against the smaller Bulls spelled the difference. The Gamecocks outrebounded Buffalo 48-21, outscored the Bulls 20-5 on second-chance points and finished with a 52-30 edge in the paint.


NOTRE DAME 90, TEXAS A&M 84: Marina Mabrey scored 25 points, hitting a career-high seven 3-pointers, and Arike Ogunbowale also had 25 points to help top-seed Notre Dame (32-3) beat Texas A&M (26-10) in Spokane, Washington.

The Fighting Irish rallied from a 13-point first-half deficit.


Chennedy Carter, the dynamic freshman for the Aggies, finished with 31 points and seven assists. Anriel Howard added a career-high 26 points and 14 rebounds.

OREGON 83, CENTRAL MICHIGAN 69: Ruthy Hebard had 23 points and 14 rebounds, Sabrina Ionescu just missed another triple-double with 16 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds, and second-seeded Oregon (33-4) beat No. 11 Central Michigan (30-5).

The Ducks will play top-seeded Notre Dame in the regional final Monday.

Tinara Moore had 23 points and 14 rebounds for Central Michigan.

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