UConn hungry for fifth straight title
South Carolina denies Florida State first Final Four.
Everything UConn lost to graduation made another Final Four even more special for Geno Auriemma and his Huskies.
Napheesa Collier scored 28 points, Gabby Williams had 25 and the Huskies advanced to the national semifinals for the 10th straight year with a 90-52 victory against Oregon on Monday night.
“There were a lot of question marks going into the season and maybe they didn’t have any in their own minds,” Auriemma said. “They seemed to answer every single one of those questions. They deserve to be in the Final Four.”
The Huskies’ 111th consecutive victory moved Auriemma past Pat Summitt for the most NCAA Tournament wins. Auriemma now has 113 and counting.
Next up for top-seeded UConn (36-0) is Mississippi State on Friday night in Dallas. It is just two wins away from a fifth consecutive title and 12th overall.
“It means a whole lot, especially with this group because no one thought we’d be here and we worked so hard this year,” said Collier, who earned most outstanding player of the region honors.
The Huskies jumped all over 10th-seeded Oregon (2314), stopping its impressive run through the tourney.
Leading 6-4, UConn scored 17 straight points. Saniya Chong got the game-changing burst started with consecutive 3-pointers. Nearly 4½ minutes later she capped the burst with a layup that made it 23-4.
Oregon closed to 34-21 midway through the second quarter, but UConn put the game away by scoring 15 of the final 18 points of the half.
With Breanna Stewart, Morgan Tuck and Moriah Jefferson gone to the WNBA, UConn has a new trio leading the way. Collier and fellow sophomore Katie Lou Samuelson were honored as AP All-Americans on Monday, with Williams, a junior, making the second team.
Oregon also has a bright future. Coach Kelly Graves’ team is led by outstanding freshmen Sabrina Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard and Mallory McGwire. The trio averaged 36.8 points combined this season. Ionescu led the way against UConn with 15 points.
Oregon upset seventh-seeded Temple, No. 2 Duke and No. 3 Maryland to get to the Elite Eight for the first time in program history.
“I just think all of it is part of the process,” Graves said. “A run like this will make it easier to motivate our team in the offseason.”
FSU women falter: Florida State’s bid to become the first women’s team from Florida to reach the Final Four came up short late Monday night when the Seminoles fell to South Carolina 71-64 in Stockton, Calif.
Kaela Davis scored 23 points and A’ja Wilson added 16 to lead the topseeded Gamecocks (31-4) over the third-seeded Seminoles (28-7).
Trailing for most of the game, FSU’s Leticia Romero cut the South Carolina lead to five, 65-60, on a driving jumper with 3:51 left. Then Brittany Brown’s steal and layup at 3:25 made it 65-62, but the Seminoles wouldn’t get closer.
Romero had 16 points, six assists and six rebounds, but shot just 6 for 23 from the field. As a team, the Seminoles shot just 36.6 percent (26 for 71).