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Huskies overcome rare challenge

Connecticut’s Breanna Stewart blocks a shot by BYU’s Kim Beeston during the first half, when the Cougars challenged the unbeaten Huskies before succumbing quickly after halftime.

Associated Press

Connecticut’s Breanna Stewart blocks a shot by BYU’s Kim Beeston during the first half, when the Cougars challenged the unbeaten Huskies before succumbing quickly after halftime.

LINCOLN, Neb. — For the first half, UConn was unexpectedly pushed by BYU.

The top-seeded Huskies took control in the second.

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had 19 points to lead four Connecticut players in double figures, and the defending national champion shook off the 12th-seeded Cougars early in the second half to win 70-51 in the NCAA women's region semifinals Saturday.

"There's always one of these in the tournament," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "I hope there's only one."

The Huskies (37-0), winners of 43 straight, will try to reach the Final Four for the seventh straight year when they take on Texas A&M on Monday night.

UConn season scoring leaders Breanna Stewart and Bria Hartley overcame slow starts, with Stewart scoring 12 of her 16 and Hartley all of her 12 in the second half.

Hartley scored 11 of the Huskies' 13 during a stretch when their lead grew to 50-41.

"To be honest with you, people on our staff will vouch for me, I knew it was going to be like this," Auriemma said. "I knew it wasn't going to be an easy matchup. It's not supposed to be easy, no matter how we make it look sometimes. I think we showed a lot of who we are in the second half. When we need a play, we made the plays."

Kim Beeston led the Cougars (28-7) with 16 points, and Morgan Bailey added 14. Jennifer Hamson had nine points, 13 rebounds and six blocks.

TEXAS A&M 84, DEPAUL 65: Courtney Walker scored 25 for the third-seeded Aggies (27-8), who led by 14 at halftime and turned back two runs by the seventh-seeded Blue Demons (29-7).

Courtney Williams had 14 of her 15 points in the second half for Texas A&M. DePaul shot 40 percent, 28 percent in the first half, and struggled defensively against the physical Aggies. Texas A&M shot 60 percent and has won each of its three tournament games by at least 15 points.

Notre Dame region

NOTRE DAME 89, OKLA. ST. 72: Natalie Achonwa gave the home fans plenty to cheer about.

The senior forward helped the Irish take a 14-0 lead and cruise to an easy win, ending the Cowgirls' hopes of winning their first region semifinal game.

Achonwa finished with 23 points, a career-high five blocks and two steals, yet that wasn't what impressed Oklahoma State coach Jim Littell about the 6-3 senior forward. He said she's most dangerous when passing.

"You turn your head and she's going to zip one right by your ear and hit somebody for an open layup or a 2-footer," he said. "When you have the ability to score on the box but you also have the ability to beat people with the pass, it makes you a special player."

Top-seeded Notre Dame (35-0) is a victory away from its fifth straight Final Four berth. Fifth-seeded Oklahoma State (25-9) fell to 0-3 in region semifinals.

BAYLOR 90, KENTUCKY 71: Odyssey Sims scored 25, including her 1,000th this season, to lead the second-seeded Bears (32-4) into the Elite Eight.

The victory came a year after Baylor was upset in the region semifinals by Louisville. It's back in the region final for the fourth time in five years despite the graduation of two-time AP player of the year Brittney Griner and four other seniors.

"With what we lost people didn't know what to expect," Baylor senior Makenzie Robertson said. "That game was motivation to prove people wrong. It means the world to get this far."

The third-seeded Wildcats (26-9) trailed 28-24 with 6:26 left in the first half before the Bears blew it open with a 17-2 run.

Women's NCAA Tournament Sweet 16

Region semis Region finals Final Four Championship Final Four Region finals Region semis
lincoln Lincoln, Neb. 1 UConn 70 1 Notre Dame 89 South Bend, Ind. notre dame
1 UConn Nashville 1 Notre Dame
12 BYU 51 5 Oklahoma St. 72
Monday Monday
3 Texas A&M 84 About 9:30, ESPN 7:30, ESPN 3 Kentucky 72
3 Texas A&M 2 Baylor
7 DePaul 65 2 Baylor 90
April 6 April 8 April 6
stanford Stanford, Calif. 1 South Carolina 1 Tennessee Louisville, Ky. louisville
Tonight, 7, ESPN2 Today, noon, ESPN
4 North Carolina 4 Maryland
Tuesday Tuesday
3 Penn State 3 Louisville
Today, 4:30, ESPN2 Today, 2:30, ESPN
2 Stanford 7 LSU

Huskies overcome rare challenge 03/29/14 [Last modified: Saturday, March 29, 2014 11:07pm]
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