LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — BYU has come up with two of the biggest upsets in the NCAA women's tournament to get to the school's first Sweet 16 since 2002.
The 12th-seeded Cougars are going to need a monumental effort to pull off a third and beat top-ranked UConn in the regional semifinals on Saturday.
No one has played UConn (36-0) within single digits during the Huskies' 42-game win streak, which includes victories over Prairie View A&M and Saint Joseph's by a combined 82 points in the first two rounds of the tournament. Their average margin of victory this season is 36 points.
"It's very intimidating, and they've been here every year, so they're not nervous or excited probably as much as we are," BYU coach Jeff Judkins said Friday. "Anybody on any given night — a team can be off, foul trouble, injury, some team can be really on, so you just don't know."
The Cougars (28-6) beat No. 5 seed North Carolina State and No. 4 Nebraska to become only the third No. 12 to reach the regional semifinals. The other two 12s were beaten soundly — Kansas, 93-63 by Notre Dame last year, and San Francisco, 72-44 by UConn in 1996.
The Huskies haven't played a game decided by fewer than 11 points since they lost 61-59 to Notre Dame in last year's Big East championship game. They haven't lost since.
Huskies center Stefanie Dolson said she's not surprised she and her teammates have been so dominant, largely because coach Geno Auriemma finds ways to challenge them every day. No extra motivation is needed this time of year, she said.
"It's the tournament, and every team is going to play their best, and you know that you lose, you go home," Dolson said. "We don't look at what they're ranked or what their season was like. We just go out there and play as hard as we can and focus on our game and not the team we're playing."
Judkins said the Cougars will have to play their best game to win. "And they can play their worst game. That's what we're hoping for," he said.
Five things to know about the BYU-UConn game:
LONG WAY TO GO: Impressive as UConn's 42-gamer is, the Huskies have a long way to go to match their previous two longest streaks. They won an NCAA record 90 straight from 2009-10 and 70 in a row from 2001-03.