UConn hun­gry for fifth straight ti­tle

South Carolina de­nies Florida State first Fi­nal Four.

Austin American-Statesman - - WOMEN’S NCAA TOURNAMENT - Sea­son Record (Big 12) Post­sea­son

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).

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