UConn reacts to instant-classic triumph vs. NC State, Final Four return

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Geno Auriemma celebrates with his team after advancing to the Final Four
Geno Auriemma celebrates with his team after advancing to the Final Four

History has a tendency to repeat itself. For the UConn women’s basketball program, that is especially true.

And for the 14th time in 14 years, the Huskies are headed to a women’s Final Four after their 91-87 double OT win over NC State on Monday night.

"It was just amazing the way the 10 kids that are on the court are playing for their lives, you know?" said UConn head coach Geno Auriemma. "Nobody wants to lose and everybody's making big play after big play, and nobody backed down from the moment, and it was just a shame one of us had to lose, right? It'd be great if both of us could go. If there's two teams out there better than this one, holy moly. ... I don't know what to say. Just really proud of these guys."

Paige Bueckers, who was sidelined for most of the season with a knee injury, stole the show late, scoring 15 of her 27 points in both overtime periods.

"I would've loved to watch that game," Bueckers said. "... I think being in it was, obviously, crazy. I think last year, the Elite Eight game against Baylor, I didn't think we could top that and how crazy the game was. But I think that might've topped it, for sure. But it was just a lot of fun to play in. Two very competitive teams -- like coach said, just playing for our lives at that point -- and we found a way to win and we stuck together and we stayed composed. It was a really exciting game, for sure."

In fact, after starting her night shooting 1 of 5 from the field, she finished by going 10 for 15 and couldn’t miss when it mattered the most.

But she wasn’t alone. Christyn Williams and Azzi Fudd also had tremendous nights, scoring 21 and 19 points, respectively, as the three guards combined to score 67 of the team’s 91 points.

"Literally I was thinking, 'We have Paige Bueckers and they don't,'" Williams said. "Once she makes one, the rim is like this big. She's going to keep making 'em. So (keep) giving her the ball. But yeah, she does that every day in practice. So not really surprising."

The win marked even more history as it was the first time UConn won a game in overtime in the NCAA Tournament, previously going 0-5.

The Wolfpack tried desperately to make it 0-6 and send themselves to their first Final Four since 1998, and it looked like they had a pretty good chance when Jakia Brown-Turner hit a three from the corner with 0.8 seconds left in the first overtime to tie the game up at 77-77.

However, after that dagger, Bueckers and the Huskies buckled down and after an inauspicious start from the charity stripe, UConn began knocking down its free throws and pulled ahead in front of the raucous crowd in Bridgeport, Conn.

Auriemma is aiming for his 12th national title -- all with the Huskies -- as the second-winningest coach in women’s college basketball history seeks to notch yet another trophy for his mantle.

The Huskies will play No. 1 seed Stanford on Friday at the Target Center in Minneapolis for a chance to play in the championship game.