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No. 1 UConn Dusts Louisville for 1st AAC Title

Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma calls out to his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Louisville in the finals of the American Athletic Conference women's basketball tournament, Monday, March 10, 2014, in Uncasville, Conn. Connecticut won 72-52. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma calls out to his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Louisville in the finals of the American Athletic Conference women's basketball tournament, Monday, March 10, 2014, in Uncasville, Conn. Connecticut won 72-52. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Uncasville, Conn. — Jeff Walz knows it will take a near-perfect effort for anyone to beat Connecticut. For the third time this season, his Louisville Cardinals came up short on Monday night.

Shoni Schimmel scored 20 points, but a lull at the end of the first half sent No. 3 Louisville to a 72-52 loss to the top-ranked Huskies in the inaugural American Athletic Conference championship.

“It’s going to take 40 minutes of very, very good basketball in order for anybody to beat them,” Walz said. “That’s one thing I’ve been preaching to our players the entire time. You can’t play for 20, can’t play for 30, it takes 40 minutes of basketball.”

The Cardinals (30-4) got off to a slow start. UConn scored the first eight points of the game before the fans barely had settled into their seats.

Louisville trailed 28-20 with 6 minutes left in the first half, but the Huskies stormed to an 18-point lead at the break, basically putting the game away.

It was the 16th straight loss by the Cardinals to the Huskies. Still Walz believes his team can take down UConn if they do meet again in the NCAA tournament.

Walz hopes that he doesn’t have to see UConn again until potentially the Final Four. The Cardinals are hosting a regional in the NCAA tournament and there is a chance that UConn could be sent down there as a one seed.

No. 9 Baylor 74 No. 7 West Virginia 71

Oklahoma City — Odyssey Sims overcame an ankle injury and scored 19 points to help No. 9 Baylor defeat No. 7 West Virginia in the Big 12 women’s championship game.

Niya Johnson also had 19 points and made four free throws in the final minute, and Nina Davis added 16 points for the Lady Bears (29-4), who have won 15 of their past 16 games. Davis, a freshman, was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.

Men

CAA: Delaware 75 William & Mary 74

Baltimore — Carl Baptiste scored a career-high 24 points, including a go-ahead layup with 10 seconds left, and top-seeded Delaware squeezed past William & Mary 75-74 Monday night to win the Colonial Athletic Association championship and earn a berth in the NCAA tournament for the first time in 15 years.

Delaware (25-9) will be making its fifth trip to the NCAA tournament. The Hens, who previously qualified in 1992, 1993, 1998 and 1999, were making their first appearance in a league championship since losing to Hofstra in the 2001 America East tournament.

MAAC: Manhattan 71, Iona 68

Springfield, Mass. — George Beamon scored 16 points Monday night and Manhattan held off rival Iona 71-68 for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title and a berth into the NCAA tournament.

Beamon was one of four players to score in double figures for Manhattan (25-7), which earned its first NCAA bid in a decade.

A.J. English had 15 points for Iona (22-10), which had five players with at least 10 points.

Manhattan led by as many as 10 points in the second half.

But Iona chipped away, and was within two after English drove for an uncontested dunk with 18 seconds to play.

Iona fouled Donovan Kates, who made one of two free throws for his only point of the game. But a 3-point attempt by David Laury hit the side of the rim at the buzzer.