Women’s basketball nearly pulls off upset over No. 1 UConn, but falls 63-60

Tulane women’s basketball (16-11, 7-7 American Athletic Conference) nearly ousted the No. 1 ranked UConn (26-0, 13-0 AAC) before falling to the Huskies 63-60 in the final minutes on Saturday at home.

The Wave’s last game was a 62-51 win over AAC rivals Cincinnati on Wednesday, while UConn’s last game was a 66-55 win over University of South Carolina, UConn’s 100th win in a row. Tulane lost by three points on Saturday, the second slimmest margin of victory for UConn during its historic winning streak, and the closest an AAC team has ever come to beating the Huskies.

Tulane had an upset in mind on Saturday. It trailed 18-11 after the first quarter before the defense picked up. UConn was held scoreless for more than 7 minutes, and the offense initiated a 7-0 run, spurred on from from sophomore guard Tene Thompson and freshman guard Kayla Manuirirangi. Despite the run, the Huskies lead was back to 28-18 by halftime.

The Huskies came out firing in the third quarter, making the score 38-21. The Green Wave absorbed the hit from the Huskies and came back to cut the score to 48-42, highlighted by a 3-pointer by senior guard Leslie Vorpahl to beat the buzzer at the end of the quarter.

As the fourth quarter began, Tulane trimmed UConn’s lead to two points multiple times down the stretch. With just over a minute to play, freshman forward Madison Wells brought the Green Wave within two again. At 55-53, the Huskies scored four consecutive points, but baskets from Thompson and Wells quickly made the score 59-57.

Trailing 62-57 with less than 30 seconds left, Tulane needed some heroics. Vorpahl drained a 3-point shot with 16 seconds left. UConn’s freshman guard, Crystal Dangerfield, made one of two free throws to make it 63-60, gifting Tulane the ball and a chance to tie the game, but UConn stole the inbounds pass.

Tulane battled with UConn and its 26 points from sophomore forward Napheesa Collier, nearly ending the longest winning streak in NCAA basketball history. Junior guard Kolby Morgan led the way with 19 points, followed by 16 from Vorpahl. Thompson was close behind with 14 points and 6 rebounds.

The Green Wave looks to continue the momentum established by almost upsetting UConn against the conference rival UCF Knights (17-9, 7-6 AAC) at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Avron B. Fogelman Arena in Devlin Fieldhouse.

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