Azzi Fudd breaks out in UConn's 60-53 win over USF

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UConn's Azzi Fudd shoots free throw
UConn's Azzi Fudd shoots free throw

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) Connecticut's Geno Auriemma keeps pushing for Paige Bueckers and freshman Azzi Fudd to shoot more.

Games like Sunday are only going to make the Hall of Fame coach more persistent - especially considering how it helped the second-ranked Huskies grind through a tough tournament game against a ranked opponent.

Bueckers had 21 points while Fudd had a season-high 18 on six 3-pointers to help Connecticut hold off No. 23 South Florida 60-53 in Sunday's semifinals of the inaugural women's Battle 4 Atlantis. Both hit big shots during the second-half run that got the Huskies out of a surprising hole after squandering a 13-point first-half lead.

"I think being a great teammate is shooting every time you're open when you're a great shooter," Auriemma said. "For young kids, I think it's somewhat natural at times to not want to put yourself in that situation. ... Some kids just take a little bit longer to kind of see it. It's not a bad thing, it's what it is."

The Huskies (3-0) had to fight to the final minutes to maintain a perfect mark against the Bulls (3-2). In addition to losing the first-half margin, UConn squandered an eight-point lead midway through the third after giving up an 11-0 run to fall behind 45-42.

Bueckers made 8 of 16 shots, her biggest being when she dribbled away from the corner and hit a turnaround 3 over Elisa Pinzan to tie it at 45 at the end of the third quarter.

The Huskies got the ball to start the fourth, and Fudd followed with a straightaway 3 - essentially a six-point possession that took momentum back from the surging Bulls. That was the start of a 14-2 burst, which included Bueckers scoring on a cut off a perfect feed from Olivia Nelson-Ododa in the post and Fudd adding another 3 to push the lead to 56-47 with 4:28 left.

Fudd finished 6 of 9 from 3-point range after scoring just 12 points on 13 shots through the first two games of the season.

Copyright 2021 by the Associated Press