The BYU women's basketball team is still basking in the glory of reaching the Sweet 16 for just the second time in school history.
"After the game [against Nebraska], I just get saying to everybody, 'Guys, we're going to the Sweet 16!'" said junior guard Xojian Harry. "It's like a feeling that I've never felt before."
"It's so surreal," added senior guard Kim Beester. "It's been an incredible experience. We've worked so hard to get here."
"We're so excited right now," said senior center Jennifer Hamsen. "We're on cloud nine enjoying the whole experience."
After upsets over North Carolina State and Nebraska, BYU became just the third 12-seed to ever advance to the Sweet 16. But what looms next is extremely daunting -- top-ranked, undefeated and defending champion UConn. The Huskies are 36-0 and have won their games by an average margin of victory of 36 points.
Head coach Jeff Judkins is a little concerned that his team might be intimidated by the Huskies.
"That's a big question because a lot of teams, they see that name on the uniform," Judkins said. "I told my girls today that when I played for the Celtics, we won the game before it started because of that. It's exciting to play them, no question. The first time I played Dr. J, I was nervous, but as soon as he dunked on me, that was it. I told them we have to come out play our game and not be in awe. We have to execute and punch them back."
Nobody expected the Cougars to get this far, and if they beat UConn, it will be considered the greatest upset in the history of the tournament, so the Cougars plan on coming out and playing loose.
"We just have nothing to lose," said Beeston. "That's the best part about it, to go out there, play our best, and it gives us an opportunity to show how awesome our team is."
"I love a challenge," said junior forward Morgan Bailey. "Taking on the top team is the cherry on top of a great season. They are a great team, but I know we're great too."
While the Huskies have yet to play a game decided by single digits, they've also yet to face a player like Hamsen, who at 6-foot-7 and averages 18 points and 11 rebounds per game, poses matchup problems for any team.
"Jen is going to intimidate them a little bit," Judkins said. "They're not used to playing a 6-7 kid that's active, so there will be some really good matchups."
"We match up pretty well," said Hamsen. "They have size, we have size, so I just think we have great matchups."
"We have a perfect balance," added Bailey. "We have Jen and me inside, who compliment each other perfectly. When people worry about us, we have guards that can shoot, and Lexi Eaton that can drive. This team is amazing."
At 28-6, this has already been one of the most successful seasons in BYU history. But a win over UConn would give the Cougars its greatest victory ever.
"In life, when you have opportunities, you need to take advantage of them," Judkins said. "Hopefully we'll be able to do that."
The Cougars and Huskies play at 2:30 p.m. mountain time in Lincoln, Nebraska on Saturday.
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