UConn is human after all.
The Huskies will miss the Elite Eight for the first time in 18 years, crashing out of the NCAA women’s tournament in a hail of turnovers. The 73-61 loss to third-seeded Ohio State on Saturday also ends the Huskies’ streak of consecutive Final Four appearances at 14, an NCAA record.
John Wooden’s UCLA dynasty holds the record for most consecutive men’s Final Fours, with 10.
Second-seeded Connecticut struggled with Ohio State’s press, coughing the ball up 25 times including 18 in the first half alone. The Buckeyes converted those miscues into 23 points.
Turnovers weren’t UConn’s only problem, however. Leading scorer Aaliyah Edwards was in foul trouble for most of the game – she played just 17 minutes – and finished with just four points, 13 below her average.
Follow the madness: Latest Women’s NCAA Tournament College Basketball Scores and Schedules
Lou Lopez Senechal led UConn with 25 points, one shy of her season high, but it wasn’t enough. The Huskies outrebounded Ohio State 38-34 and didn’t shoot horribly, finishing at just over 45%. But the turnovers prevented them from getting any kind of rhythm. They looked out of sorts everywhere on the court and were down 36-26 at halftime, just the sixth time in tournament history they’d trailed by double digits.
Ohio State, meanwhile, played loose and with energy, stacking together run after run and always having a ready answer when UConn did seem on the verge of putting something together. Big Ten freshman of the year Cotie McMahon led the way with 23 points before fouling out while Jacy Sheldon added 17.
UConn played South Carolina for the national title last year, and seemed to have the makings for another stellar year. Instead, they’ve been plagued by injuries.
Paige Bueckers, the national player of the year two years ago, is out with a knee injury. Azzi Fudd missed most of the year before returning for the Big East tournament. That lack of depth caught up with the Huskies against Ohio State. When Edwards got into foul trouble and Ohio State clamped down, UConn had no one else it could go to to jump start them.
The loss caps what has been a most uncharacteristic year for UConn, 11-time national champions. The Huskies dropped back-to-back games for the first time since 1993, and needed to win the Big East tournament title to lock up a No. 2 seed.
Now they’re making their earliest exit since 2005, and two of the most impressive streaks in all of college basketball are history.
Follow Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour