March Madness Takeaways: Canada’s Aaliyah Edwards steps up yet again for UConn

In a season with more than its fair share of challenges for the UConn Huskies women’s basketball team, one player hasn’t missed a beat.

Canadian Aaliyah Edwards has been a rock-solid, constant presence for a Huskies team ravaged by injuries at various points this season — the only player on the squad to play all 34 games (29 wins).

To the surprise of no one, the third-team All-American was at her best with the stakes raised on Saturday for UConn’s March Madness opener.

The six-foot-three, third-year forward from Kingston, Ont. was a perfect 8-for-8 from the field in the first half and finished the game with a career-high 28 points as No. 2-seeded UConn beat visiting Vermont 95-52.

Edwards made her first 10 shots before finally missing one late in the third quarter. She finished 13-of-15 and added seven rebounds, five assists, four steals and two blocks.

Named the Big East’s most improved player this season, Edwards also is one of five finalists for the national Katrina McClain Award for best power forward.

She showed why on Saturday with a couple of and-ones in a dominant first quarter.

After the second in transition off a steal, a pumped-up Edwards exchanged fist bumps with fans in the student section.

UConn led 27-12 after the first quarter and rolled to victory.

A perennial powerhouse, UConn is looking to return to the national championship game after falling to South Carolina in last year’s title tilt.

It hasn’t been smooth sailing this season — former national player of the year Paige Bueckers hasn’t played all year because of a torn ACL and UConn had one game postponed because it didn’t have the minimum number of scholarship players available.

But through it all, Edwards has been a steadying influence. With the team finally close to full health at the most important time of the year, there’s reason for optimism.

It should be noted that the last time UConn won a national title in 2016 (completing a four-peat), one of its best players happened to be a Canadian — national team star Kia Nurse. Edwards would love to follow in her footsteps of her.

The Day After

Less than 24 hours after what many call the biggest upset in college basketball history, Fairleigh Dickinson men’s players and coaches were back in front of the media — trying to prepare for Sunday’s game against Florida Atlantic following the Knights’ stunning win over top-seeded Purdue in Columbus, Ohio.

Turning their phones on silent might be the way to go.

“I’ve got, like, 1,200 unanswered texts right now. The problem each time I look at my phone, it’s more and more,” coach Tobin Anderson said. “My message, if anybody’s listening, stop texting right now. Give me a chance to catch up.”

Added top player Sean Moore: “I personally would say life-changing. That whole game has changed everybody on our team, staff, students, everybody who goes to Fairleigh Dickinson University, everything is different now. Phone has been going crazy, still is. I’m trying to reach back out to everybody. I appreciate everybody out there showing love.”

If the shortest team in college basketball can somehow win one more game, a trip to the Sweet 16 at some arena called Madison Square Garden will be in store — about a 45-minute drive from the Jersey campus.

“If we’ve got a chance to go to the Garden and play in the Sweet 16, I wouldn’t have to fly back to Jersey. I could jog back … take off running, be like Forrest Gump or something,” said Anderson, the team’s first-year coach after a long run in Divisions II and III, much of it in upstate New York.

“That would be incredible.”

Canadian corner

Tara Wallack of South Surrey, BC had a double-double (16 points, 12 rebounds) in a losing cause as No. 5 seed Washington State dropped a 74-63 decision to Florida Gulf Coast.

Sunday’s games

Men’s (round of 32)

No. 11 Pittsburgh vs. No. 3 Xavier, 12:10pm ET / 9:10am PT

No. 6 Kentucky vs. No. 3 Kansas State, 2:40pm ET / 11:40am PT

No. 7 Michigan State vs. No. 2 Marquette, 5:15pm ET / 2:15pm PT

No. 5 Saint Mary’s vs. No. 4 UConn, 6:10pm ET / 3:10pm PT

No. 6 Creighton vs. No. 3 Baylor, 7:10pm ET / 4:10pm PT

No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson vs. No. 9 Florida Atlantic, 7:45pm ET / 4:45pm PT

No. 5 Miami vs. No. 4 Indiana, 8:40pm ET / 5:40pm PT

No. 6 TCU vs. No. 3 Gonzaga, 9:40pm ET / 6:40pm PT


No. 8 South Florida vs. No. 1 South Carolina, 1pm ET / 10am PT

No. 10 Georgia vs. No. 2 Iowa, 3pm ET / 12pm PT

No. 11 Mississippi State vs. No. 3 Notre Dame, 3:30pm ET / 12:30pm PT

No. 9 San Diego State vs. No. 1 Virginia Tech, 5pm ET / 2pm PT

No. 7 Arizona vs. No. 2 Maryland, 5:30pm ET / 2:30pm PT

No. 10 Princeton vs. No. 2 Utah, 7pm ET / 4pm PT

No. 6 Michigan vs. No. 3 LSU, 7:30pm ET / 4:30pm PT

No. 8 Ole Miss vs. No. 1 Stanford, 9:30pm ET / 6:30pm PT

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