Saturday, January 20, 2018
Sports

Huskies take usual place

KINGSTON, R.I. — Before the season started, Geno Auriemma figured his Connecticut Huskies wouldn't be good enough to make it to the Final Four.

A funny thing happened along the way: His starless team jelled, and now UConn is back in the national semifinals for a fifth straight season.

Tiffany Hayes scored 22 and top-seeded Connecticut beat Kentucky 80-65 on Tuesday night in the Kingston Region final.

"We like to go to the Final Four every year," Auriemma said. "I think we're also realistic, some years it's going to be easier than others. Expectations are always there, regardless of the probability. This year was less than other years. Makes it more worthwhile. Last year we went as a team led by Maya Moore. This year there isn't any of that. The University of Connecticut is going to the Final Four and I think that's pretty cool once in a while."

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis added 18 for UConn (33-4), which will play Notre Dame on Sunday in Denver.

Auriemma said facing the Irish: "We've got two of the best teams in the country. That's going to be as hard to win as any other time we've played them. They are really, really, really good."

Hayes, selected most outstanding player of the region, has been to a Final Four in all four of her seasons. This time was special to the senior: "It's even sweeter because this is a team effort, it wasn't one or two people getting us there. We all had our part in it. Glad to be back for the fourth time."

The Huskies matched their own NCAA record of consecutive Final Four trips set from 2000-04. LSU and Stanford have also accomplished the feat.

Unlike their previous four trips to the region finals, which were quick blowouts, the Huskies had to work hard.

UConn led 48-47 early in the second half before turning up its defense and going on a 21-4 run. Hayes, who scored seven during the run, got it started with a lay-in. Then the Huskies started a parade to the line, converting 12 free throws.

Mosqueda-Lewis' 3-pointer with 7:26 left capped UConn's burst. Kentucky (28-7) got no closer than 15 the rest of the way.

It has been a strange season for UConn. Despite running through the early part of its schedule, Auriemma knew the team's shortcomings would eventually be exposed. Road losses to Baylor and Notre Dame were understandable, but at the end of February UConn really came to a crossroads.

The Huskies lost to St. John's on senior night, snapping a 99-game home winning streak. Nine days later they fell to Notre Dame. Since then they've been unstoppable, cruising to the Big East tournament championship and rolling through three NCAA Tournament games.

Now UConn is back in the Final Four for the 13th time in 18 years. Kentucky, meanwhile, lost in the region finals for the second time in three seasons.

"It's hard to get to where we got to tonight and they've been here so many times, it's difficult," Wildcats coach Matthew Mitchell said. "We need to stay at it and keep showing up and one day we'll punch through."

NOTRE DAME 80, MARYLAND 49: Skylar Diggins had a triple-double and the Irish (34-3) earned their second straight Final Four berth by routing the Terps (31-5) in the Raleigh (N.C.) Region final.

Diggins, the Big East player of the year, had 22 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds and five steals. She kept Notre Dame's four-guard lineup humming and causing the second-seeded Terrapins fits all night. The Irish had a 46-27 rebounding edge on low-post-oriented Maryland.

The Terrapins trailed by 19 in the first half and never got close from there, denied a fourth Final Four trip and first since winning the national title in 2006.

Comments
Fennelly: Lightning needs a reset on the road … pronto

Fennelly: Lightning needs a reset on the road … pronto

TAMPA — Vegas has left the building.Wasn't the Lightning just arranging place settings for next weekend's NHL All-Star Game party?With that in mind, I headed to the home dressing room at Amalie Arena late Thursday after the Lightning was manhan...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Saturday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYCollege basketballWomen: La Salle at Rhode Island11 a.m.CBSSNPurdue at IowanoonESPNFlorida State at Virginia TechnoonESPN2; 1010-AMWichita State at HoustonnoonESPNUVillanova at ConnecticutnoonCBSSt. John’s at GeorgetownnoonFS1Ohio State at Minne...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Golden Knights move within one point of Lightning for top spot in NHL

Golden Knights move within one point of Lightning for top spot in NHL

SUNRISE — Aaron Ekblad scored 40 seconds into overtime to lift the Panthers to a 4-3 victory over the Golden Knights on Friday, spoiling Vegas coach Gerard Gallant’s return to Florida. By gaining a point, Vegas moved within one point of the Lightning...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Well Humored ready to get back on a dirt track

OLDSMAR — It is time for Well Humored to get dirty again.The WinStar Farm homebred makes her first start on the Tampa Bay Downs main track Saturday afternoon in the $50,000 Wayward Lass, one of three stakes events on the Skyway Festival Day 11-race p...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Star-struck Kyrgios stays cool on court

Star-struck Kyrgios stays cool on court

MELBOURNE, Australia — With Will Smith in the crowd and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga across the net, Nick Kyrgios was in his element as the main attraction for a night at the Australian Open. Time to put on a show. One of his favorite actors — Smith was making...
Updated: 4 hours ago

National Hoopfest: Berkeley Prep proves to be no pushover

TAMPA —  Berkeley Prep's four-game win streak came to end Friday.That was expected.The Buccaneers faced West Oaks Academy, an independent powerhouse from Orlando that plays a national schedule, during Friday's National Hoopfest tournament....
Updated: 4 hours ago

Sports in Brief

BaseballTebow gets another crack at making mets Tim Tebow has been invited by the Mets to spring training for a second straight season.The 30-year-old will begin his second year of attempting to reach the big leagues when spring training opens in Por...
Updated: 4 hours ago

High school scoreboard for Jan. 19

Friday’s scoreboardBoys soccerIndian Rocks Christian 2, Lakewood 1Lennard 3, Spoto 0Girls soccerPCAC Championship: Largo 3, Osceola 1Lennard 8, Spoto 0
Updated: 4 hours ago

Lowry, DeRozan help Raptors end Spurs jinx

TORONTO — Kyle Lowry scored nine of his 24 in the fourth quarter, DeMar DeRozan added 21 and the Raptors beat the Spurs 86-83 Friday to snap a four-game losing streak against San Antonio. Jonas Valanciunas had 15 points and 11 rebounds as Toronto imp...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Quarterback or bust for Quinton Flowers in the NFL?

Quarterback or bust for Quinton Flowers in the NFL?

ST. PETERSBURG — Reps have been priceless for Quinton Flowers this week, each to be maximized and handled with care.Yet he couldn't avoid handling some clumsily.On the opening day of practice at Shorecrest Prep for today's East-West Shrine Game...
Updated: 5 hours ago