Napheesa Collier collected 27 points and 16 rebounds as second-seeded Connecticut advanced to the Sweet 16 for the 26th straight year on Sunday with an 84-72 victory over 10th-seeded Buffalo in an NCAA Women’s Tournament Albany Region game at Storrs, Conn.
Collier shot 12-for-15 from the floor for the Huskies (33-2), who bolted out of the blocks with a 15-0 run and survived some anxious moments in the fourth quarter to record their 94th consecutive home win.
Katie Lou Samuelson and Christyn Williams each scored 17 points and Crystal Dangerfield added 11 for Connecticut, which will face the winner of Monday’s contest pitting third-seeded Maryland (29-4) against sixth-seeded UCLA (21-12).
Buffalo’s Cierra Dillard overcame a sluggish start to score 29 points before being hampered by an apparent ankle injury in the fourth quarter. Adebola Adeyeye, Theresa Onwuka and Brittany Morrison each had five offensive rebounds for the Bulls (24-10), who were bidding for their second consecutive Sweet 16 appearance and third overall.
Dillard drilled a 3-pointer to trim the deficit to 13 at 73-60 with 8:46 to go in the fourth quarter, but Collier answered with a layup. Dilliard was injured on next possession after stepping on the foot of Collier and remained on the floor for several moments before exiting under her own power.
Collier’s layup gave the Huskies a 75-60 lead with exactly eight minutes to go, but the team went 1-for-9 with five turnovers during the next 5:45 as Buffalo crept within eight points.
Collier ended the drought with a layup and an injured Dillard scored four quick points — two one each side of Megan Walker’s layup. Connecticut made its free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
Collier scored six quick points and the Huskies took advantage of six Buffalo turnovers to take a commanding 15-0 lead to start the game.
Williams drilled back-to-back 3-pointers to push Connecticut’s lead to 21-4, but Buffalo answered by scoring the final nine points of the first quarter to cut the deficit to 27-15.
The Huskies threatened to run away as Samuelson scored five straight points during a 21-9 run to push the advantage to 48-24. Buffalo, which had 11 offensive rebounds in the first half, continued to work the glass and went on a 13-4 run prior to intermission.
—Field Level Media