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Aaliyah Edwards’ double-double helps UConn survive Syracuse scare, advance to Sweet 16

Paige Bueckers tied her season high with 32 points, freshman Ashlynn Shade added 19 and No. 3 seed UConn held off Syracuse 72-64 on Monday night to earn a 30th straight trip to the Sweet 16.

It was Bueckers’ fifth straight game with at least 25 points, and seventh in her last eight games.

Dyaisha Fair scored 18 of her 20 points in the second half as Syracuse came back from a 12-point first half deficit to pull within two with just under two minutes left. But the Orange missed four 3-point attempts down the stretch and UConn scored seven of the game’s final eight points.

Aaliyah Edwards of Kingston, Ont., contributed a double-double of her own with 11 points and 11 rebounds in the victory.

UConn led by 11 points at halftime and Shade’s 3-pointer from the right corner, her fourth of the night, gave the Huskies a 53-44 heading into the fourth quarter.

But after UConn pushed that lead to 10 points, Husky point guard Nika Muhl, who had been guarding Fair, picked up three fouls in 30 seconds and fouled out of the game.

Coach Geno Auriemma had to be restrained by his assistants after she was called for her last, an offensive foul as she was bringing the ball up court, with UConn up 63-55 and 5:17 left in the game.

After Shade extended the lead back to 10 with a jumper, Fair and Burrows hit back-to-back 3-pointers and an elbow jumper from Alyssa Latham made it 65-63 with 1:53 left.

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But freshman KK Arnold made a clutch 3-pointer from the left wing with 28 seconds left pushed the lead back to six and Syracuse missed four contested 3-pointers down the stretch.

NC State upends Tennessee

Meanwhile,┬áTennessee didn’t wilt when North Carolina State built a 20-point lead. Just as importantly, the Wolfpack didn’t either after Lady Vols climbed all the way back within a single bucket.

And that sent Wes Moore’s squad on to the Sweet 16 of March Madness again.

Aziaha James scored 22 points and had two critical late buckets as the third-seeded Wolfpack held off the sixth-seeded Volunteers 79-72 in Monday’s second round of the NCAA Tournament, a win that came after N.C. State had squandered nearly all of that huge third-quarter lead.

“I’m just proud of them for keeping their heads up,” Moore said. “They could have real easily let the pressure get to them.”

It helped to have the backing of a boisterous home crowd at the venerable Reynolds Coliseum on campus, as well as James stepping up in the clutch for the Wolfpack (29-6) to hold on despite a huge game from Tennessee star Rickea Jackson.

James came up big in the critical moment amid the Lady Vols had closed to within 65-63 on Tamari Key’s basket inside. First the 5-foot-9 junior scored on a floater over the outstretched arms of the 6-6 Key. Then, after Baldwin blocked a shot from Jackson from behind, James curled around the left wing to catch and feed from Saniya Rivers and stick a huge 3-pointer for a 70-63 lead at the 2:48 mark.

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Tennessee, which had made a huge comeback in a loss to top-ranked South Carolina in the Southeastern Conference Tournament, didn’t get it back to a one-possession game again.

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