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Connecticut advances with 18-point victory over Penn State

Posted: Sunday, March 24, 2002

Connecticut faced its toughest test of the NCAA tournament, and still won easily.

Sue Bird scored 24 points and top-seeded Connecticut limited Penn State to just 13 points in the final 15 minutes for an 82-64 victory in a Mideast Regional semifinal Saturday in Milwaukee.

The Huskies, who beat their previous five opponents by an average of 40 points, won their 36th straight game.

''I'm not sure they're going to let us play Monday night. We only won by 18,'' UConn coach Geno Auriemma said wryly.

Connecticut will play Old Dominion, an 88-62 winner over Kansas State, on Monday with a berth in the Final Four at stake.

Duke and South Carolina advanced to the East Regional final, with Duke beating Texas 62-46, and South Carolina defeating Drake 79-65.

Tennessee reached the Midwest Regional final with a 68-57 victory over Brigham Young. The Vols will play Southeastern Conference rival Vanderbilt, which beat North Carolina 70-61.

Colorado beat Stanford 62-59 in a West Regional semifinal, ensuring the Big 12 of a team in the Final Four. The Buffaloes will play Oklahoma, a 72-62 winner over Texas Tech.

Connecticut played well offensively, but was nearly undone by its defense.

Penn State's Tanisha Wright shot 8-for-10 from the line and scored 18 points. Kelly Mazzante scored 15 points, and Jess Strom was 4-of-5 from 3-point range, helping the Lady Lions (23-12) stay in contention.

Connecticut pushed its lead to 10 points just once in the first half and Penn State pulled within 55-51 with just under 15 minutes left.

''I think we're a pretty good defensive team, and they made us look bad. They made us look real bad,'' Auriemma said.

Connecticut then mixed its zone and man-to-man defenses to throw off Penn State.

''There were times when Connecticut took it to another level,'' Penn State coach Rene Portland said. ''That's when the tiredness hit.''

Connecticut went on a 21-7 run over the next nine minutes and pushed its lead to 76-58. The Huskies outrebounded Penn State 50-33, including 22 offensive rebounds.

Diana Taurasi added 15 points for the Huskies. Asjha Jones scored 14 and Tamika Williams had 13 points and 12 rebounds.

''When things are going right for you, it's east to play well, it's easy to win by 20,'' Bird said. ''It's when things are going badly you find out as a team what you're made of.''

Mideast

Old Dominion 88, Kansas State 62

Lucienne Berthieu shot 13-for-18 and scored 30 points as Old Dominion extended its winning streak to 21 games.

Monique Coker shot 8-for-8 from the field for 16 points, and Sharron Francis and Hamchetou Maiga each had 12 points for the Lady Monarchs, who shot 66 percent.

Nicole Ohlde scored 23 points, and Laurie Koehn and Kendra Wecker each added 11 for Kansas State.

South Carolina 79, Drake 65

Shaunzinski Gortman and Jocelyn Penn each scored 19 points as third-seeded South Carolina beat seventh-seeded Drake.

The Gamecocks (25-6), making their first NCAA appearance in 11 years, earned their first trip to a regional final.

Carla Bennett had 20 points to lead Drake (25-8), which was looking for its first trip to a regional final since 1982.

Duke 62, Texas 46

Alana Beard scored 15 points, and Sheana Mosch added 13 as top-seeded Duke (30-3) beat Texas its school-record 21st straight victory.

Stacy Stephens scored 14 points, and Heather Schreiber added 11 for Texas, which was looking for its first trip to a regional final since 1990.

Midwest

Tennessee 68, Brigham Young 57

Freshman Shyra Ely scored the first 12 points of a game-turning 15-0 run late in the first half and finished with 21 as second-seeded Tennessee advanced to a regional final for the 17th time in 21 years.

Melanie Pearson led BYU (24-9) with 23 points. Erin Thorn, who shot 16-for-24 in the first two rounds, scored eight on 3-for-22 shooting.

Vanderbilt 70, North Carolina 61

Chantelle Anderson had 22 points and 12 rebounds, and top-seeded Vanderbilt slowed one of the nation's highest-scoring teams in beating fourth-seeded North Carolina .

Jenni Benningfield and Ashley McElhiney each scored 13 points, and Jillian Danker had 12 for Vanderbilt (30-6).

Coretta Brown scored 19 for North Carolina.

Colorado 62, Stanford 59

Tera Bjorkland scored 10 of her 17 points in the second half and Randi Wirt swished two free throws with 8 seconds remaining to lead third-seeded Colorado past second-seeded Stanford.

Bethany Doniphan scored 13 points for Colorado (24-9). Eisha Bohman added 10 points and helped slow Stanford's Nicole Powell, who had triple-doubles in the Cardinal's first two NCAA tournament games.

Powell finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists, and Sabrina Scott added 10 rebounds for Stanford (32-3).

Oklahoma 72, Texas Tech 62

Caton Hill scored 15 points and had 14 rebounds as top-seeded Oklahoma beat No. 4 Texas Tech for the third time this season.

The Sooners (30-3) also got 18 points from LaNeishea Caufield and 15 from Stacey Dales, their All-American swing guard.

Texas Tech freshman center Cisti Greenwalt scored 18 points and had eight rebounds in her first NCAA tournament game, while Jia Perkins scored 15.

Rosalind Ross scored 15 points, all in the second half, for the Sooners, who used just six players in the win.



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