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Florida State women reach region final of NCAA Tournament, get to face top-seeded Connecticut

Florida State celebrates its Dayton Region semifinal win over Mississippi State and the school’s first berth in the Elite Eight.

Associated Press

Florida State celebrates its Dayton Region semifinal win over Mississippi State and the school’s first berth in the Elite Eight.

DAYTON, Ohio — Moments after her team pulled off the biggest win in Florida State history, coach Sue Semrau faced questions about the next opponent.

So, she was asked, is Connecticut the greatest team of all time?

"I haven't been around for all time, so I can't tell you if they're the greatest team of all time," she said, clearly put off.

Courtney Ward scored the third-seeded Seminoles' last six points in the final 38 seconds, leading the way to a 74-71 win over No. 7 seed Mississippi State on Sunday in a Dayton Region semifinal.

FSU (29-5) faces top-seeded UConn (36-0) in Tuesday's region final. The Huskies won 78-59 when they met Dec. 28.

After the Seminoles spoke about their big win, Semrau was asked about that earlier game against the Huskies and whether it might leave her team intimidated.

"If I put myself in the heads of 18- to 22-year-olds who have watched Connecticut annihilate people, I think there'd be trepidation," she said. "We haven't just watched it; we've been there in a game with UConn. And that will help us in our approach."

The Seminoles, who set a school mark with their 29th win, earned their first spot in a region title game.

"It means a lot," said Jacinta Monroe, who scored 11. "I can barely put it into words."

Alysha Harvin scored 21 and Ward added 14 for the Seminoles, who held on late after 11 ties and 14 lead changes. Chanel Mokango scored 20 for the Bulldogs (21-13), who went deeper in the tournament than ever.

Meanwhile, Semrau chose to think about what the victory meant to FSU instead of what it would mean come Tuesday.

"We've been trying to establish something stronger than just one year," she said. "This win, this appearance in the Elite Eight, helps us establish ourselves as a national contender in women's basketball."

UConn cruises again

Maya Moore made a 3-pointer from the top of the key for Connecticut's first basket. Then she hit one from the left corner. Just like that, another rout was on.

Moore scored 16 of her 25 points in the first nine minutes and UConn took it from there to roll over Iowa State 74-36 in a Dayton Region semifinal.

"It's critical for us to get off to a good start," Moore said. "We always want to be the team to score first. … Coach (Geno Auriemma) always says the moment you see daylight and you're open, knock it down."

Kelly Faris came off the bench for 16 points for the Huskies, who extended their unprecedented winning streak to 75 in a row.

The Huskies have won their first three games in the tournament by a combined 148 points, the most ever. UConn easily surpassed the mark of 131 it set in 2000 and 2001.

UConn advances to its fifth straight region title game and 10th in 11 years. The Huskies face third-seeded FSU on Tuesday.

Anna Prins scored 10 for the Cyclones (25-8).

Kansas City Region

Top seed falls: Top-seeded Nebraska couldn't keep up with fourth-seeded Kentucky from the outset and fell 76-67. A'dia Mathies scored 21 and Victoria Dunlap had 18 points and seven rebounds to lead the Wildcats (28-7). Dominique Kelley had 22 points for the Cornhuskers (32-2).

Okla. 77, Notre Dame 72, OT: Nyeshia Stevenson scored 21 and Abi Olajuwon added 20 points and 14 rebounds for the third-seeded Sooners (26-10), who reached a region final for the second straight year. Melissa Lechlitner scored 22 for the second-seeded Fighting Irish (29-6).

Record watch: Baylor freshman Brittney Griner has 26 blocks, four from the tournament record. The fourth-seeded Bears face second-seeded Duke in tonight's Memphis Region final.

Florida State women reach region final of NCAA Tournament, get to face top-seeded Connecticut 03/28/10 [Last modified: Monday, March 29, 2010 1:32am]
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