37-0 Huskies Pull Away From Cougars
Lincoln, Neb. — UConn faced its first test of the NCAA tournament and responded with another double-digit win.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had 19 points to lead four Connecticut players in double figures, and the defending national champion Huskies shook off BYU early in the second half to win 70-51 in the NCAA women’s regional semifinals Saturday.
The Huskies (37-0), winners of 43 straight, need a win over Texas A&M on Monday night to reach the Final Four for the seventh straight year.
UConn season scoring leaders Breanna Stewart and Bria Hartley overcame slow starts, with Stewart having 12 of her 16 in the second half and Hartley all 12 of hers after halftime.
She keyed Connecticut’s run that broke the game open.
Moriah Jefferson added 11 for UConn.
Kim Beeston led the Cougars (28-7) with 16 points, and Morgan Bailey added 14. Jennifer Hamson had nine points to go with 13 rebounds and six blocked shots.
Mosqueda-Lewis and Stefanie Dolson each grabbed 13 rebounds.
The Cougars, who came to Lincoln off wins in 12 of 13 games, joined 2013 Kansas and 1996 San Francisco as the only No. 12 seeds to make it to the regional semifinals. They were trying to become the lowest seed to reach the Elite Eight since a No. 11 Gonzaga did it in 2011.
Until early in the second half it looked like they had a chance to do it — against the dominant program of this era, no less.
UConn won the only previous meetings of the programs, in 2007 and 2008, by 46 and 49 points.
BYU showed no sign of being intimidated against the Huskies’ cast of stars. The proof? UConn was down 35-34 with 17:34 left — the latest it has trailed this season — after Lexi Eaton hit three straight baskets to open the second half.
Hartley’s 3-pointer, the first after nine straight misses from distance by UConn, started a 13-2 run that put the Huskies in control. Mosqueda-Lewis made a 3-pointer, then stole the ball on the other end and threw a baseball pass that Hartley laid in.
The Huskies kept their transition game going when Jefferson delivered a long pass to Hartley for another layup that stretched it to 47-37.
Texas A&M 84, DePaul 65
Lincoln, Neb. — Courtney Walker scored 25 points, and Texas A&M beat DePaul to advance to the regional finals of the NCAA women’s tournament.
The Aggies (27-8) led by 14 points at halftime and turned back two DePaul runs to move to a Monday night game against defending national champion Connecticut, which beat BYU 70-51 in its semifinal. Courtney Williams had 14 of her 15 points in the second half for Texas A&M.
DePaul (29-7) shot 40 percent, 28 percent in the first half, and struggled defensively against the physical Aggies. Jasmine Penny had 16 of her 24 points in the second half and Megan Rogowski added 14 points for the Blue Demons.
Notre Dame Regional
Notre Dame 89 Oklahoma State 72
South Bend, Ind. — Natalie Achonwa got Notre Dame going early and never let up as she finished with 23 points and Jewell Loyd added 20 to lead the Fighting Irish t over Oklahoma State.
Notre Dame (35-0) is a victory away from its fourth straight Final Four berth, while the Cowgirls (25-9) missed a chance to advance to a regional final for the first time in school history. They fell to 0-3 in regional semifinals.
To get to the Final Four, the Irish will have to beat Baylor, the last team to knockoff Notre Dame at home.
The Irish jumped to a 14-0 lead in the opening 3:31, capped by a three-point play by Achonwa, as the Cowgirls missed their first six shots. The Cowgirls later used a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 24-14, but that was as close as they got.
Baylor 90, Kentucky 72
South Bend, Ind. — Odyssey Sims scored 25 points, including her 1,000th this season, to lead No. 2 seed Baylor to a rout of third-seeded Kentucky.
Sims became only the second player to reach that milestone in a single season. She is 41 points behind Jackie Stiles’ record of 1,062 for one year set in 2001.
The last time Baylor and Kentucky met, they played one of the most exciting games in the history of women’s basketball. The Wildcats came away with a 133-130 four-overtime victory back in December.
This one fell far short of matching that thriller as Sims and Baylor put the game away by the half.
Now the Lady Bears (32-4) will face either Notre Dame or Oklahoma State in the regional final on Monday night. DeNesha Stallworth scored 19 points to lead Kentucky (26-9).