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Greensboro Region

Rutgers, UConn set up Round 3 in women's NCAA Tournament

Connecticut freshman Maya Moore, who scored a game-high 25 points, grabs one of her game-high 11 rebounds during the first half of a 78-63 win over Old Dominion.

Associated Press

Connecticut freshman Maya Moore, who scored a game-high 25 points, grabs one of her game-high 11 rebounds during the first half of a 78-63 win over Old Dominion.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Big East officially staked its claim to the Greensboro Region.

Tuesday's final will determine whether top-seeded Connecticut or second-seeded Rutgers moves on to Tampa for the Final Four.

Sunday's semifinals offered little in the way of surprises.

UConn got the Big East party started with a 78-63 win over fifth-seeded Old Dominion. Freshman Maya Moore led the way with 25 points and 11 rebounds, and four other Huskies scored in double figures.

Rutgers followed with a stifling defensive effort to turn back sixth-seeded George Washington 53-42, limiting it to 16 first-half points.

George Washington crept as close as 33-30 early in the second half and trailed by four points with less than four minutes left. But Rutgers, led by Essence Carson's 25 points, withstood the challenge.

So it is on to Tuesday and the obvious question: Will UConn (35-1) see the same team it routed by 20 on March 3, or will the Scarlet Knights (27-6) rediscover the formula that resulted in the Huskies' lone loss, 73-71 on Feb. 5?

Rutgers seeks to reach the Final Four for the second straight year while the Huskies hope to advance for the first time since winning three straight national titles from 2002-04.

"We're just glad to have another 40 minutes," Carson said. "We're in the Elite Eight, and we'd be excited whether we were playing Connecticut or one of the other great teams out there."

Old Dominion (31-5) trailed 43-36 on T.J. Jordan's 3-pointer at the outset of the second half. But it went more than six minutes before making its next field goal, fueling a 20-1 Connecticut run.

Moore's 3-pointer from the left wing ignited the flurry, and Brittany Hunter added layups on the Huskies' next three possessions. When Renee Montgomery converted a three-point play with 13:23 remaining, UConn's lead had ballooned to 63-37.

"That's our team," Moore said. "If they score on us, we want to score on them. It's never they score and we don't."

UConn coasted home despite making its last field goal with 9:54 remaining.

"They are so deep. Their transition game is just so good," Monarchs coach Wendy Larry said. "You have to play the perfect basketball game to compete with them."

Montgomery (13 points) was slowed by a twisted knee, and sophomore center Tina Charles (10 points, eight rebounds) injured her shoulder. Huskies coach Geno Auriemma said he expects both to be close to full speed by Tuesday.

In the second game, George Washington (27-7) scrapped its way to a close contest despite struggling on offense.

But Rutgers held firm as Carson delivered consecutive 15-footers during the fading minutes. Carson drew a foul from Sarah-Jo Lawrence on the second and completed the three-point play to push the Scarlet Knights in front 49-42 with 3:20 to play.

George Washington, which shot 32 percent from the field, failed to score the rest of the way.

"Coach (C. Vivian Stringer) tells us we need to find the hot hand in these situations," said Carson, who finished 9-for-15 from the floor. "And once we find that hot hand, keep feeding it until it goes cold."

It was the second time this season Rutgers beat George Washington and second time it played stifling defense. On Nov. 18, the Colonials shot 22 percent from the field in a 67-42 loss.

"It was a tough, physical, hard-nosed game just like we expected," coach Joe McKeown said of Sunday's loss. "When we got it down to four, I thought we had chances. But it just didn't happen."

Rutgers, UConn set up Round 3 in women's NCAA Tournament 03/30/08 [Last modified: Sunday, March 30, 2008 9:44pm]

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