UConn women’s basketball rookie Azzi Fudd limited by illness in loss to South Carolina

Injuries and illnesses have been the hallmark of UConn Women’s Basketball season and the theme continued until the last game.

Freshman Azzi Fudd, one of the team’s best offensive players, felt sick with a stomach ache Saturday night. She woke up feeling unwell on Sunday and missed the team’s morning shootout.

Fudd was determined to play in the national title match. She was in the starting lineup, but proved to be a non-factor in the 64-49 loss to South Carolina at Target Center.

“She wasn’t feeling well (Saturday night, so we knew it was going to be iffy,” UConn coach Geno Auriemme noted. “Obviously it was just one more thing that – throw it above all the other things. Like I said, it might not have mattered anyway. Carolina du Sud was so good. You have to win with what you have.

Fudd was limited to five minutes in the first half. She didn’t shoot in the first half as UConn trailed 35-27 at the break.

She started the second half and was on the field as South Carolina started the third quarter with a 9-0 run. Fudd played five minutes of the third quarter, missing two shots including one 3-pointer.

Fudd returned to the game 2:05 into the fourth quarter and made her first shot — a 3-pointer — with 4:08 remaining in the game.

In total, she collected three points in 17 minutes.

The No. 1 recruit for the Class of 2021, Fudd missed 11 games with a foot injury earlier this season. She has an average of 12.5 points and was 57 of 133 (42.9%) from a 3-point range. She has averaged 28.5 minutes this season.

Fudd had eight points in the national semi-final win over Stanford. In the double overtime win over NC State in the Bridgeport Regional Final, Fudd had 19 points and played 49 minutes.

Heading into Sunday, she was averaging 13 points in the NCAA Tournament — third on the team behind Paige Bucker and Christyn Williams.

Fudd’s illness wasn’t the only problem of the night. Auriemma said Olivia Nelson-Ododa aggravated her groin against Stanford and was wrapped up for the match.

Nelson-Ododa missed three games with a groin injury during the season. The senior had four points and two rebounds in 24 minutes against South Carolina.

“It just hasn’t stopped all year,” Auriemma said. “I don’t think either of those two things would have mattered to the way South Carolina played, but it was just one thing after another after another.

“I think it was a remarkable effort on their part to stick together as well as they have throughout the year and to be in this game.”

Senior Evina Westbrook rolled her ankle late in the first half and hobbled throughout the second half. She had seven of 3 points for 10 shots in 19 minutes.

Westbrook averaged 9.0 points heading into Sunday and is one of two players — Aaliyah Edwards is the other — to play every game. It lasted an average of 27.7 minutes.

Against South Carolina, the 6-footer Westbrook was sometimes tasked with guarding the 6-footer 5-inch Aliyah Boston.

“I didn’t really think about it,” Westbrook said of his ankle injury. “I know I was limping a bit, but it was the last game of the season so if I rolled it, broke it, I was going to try to play regardless.”

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