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UConn moves to verge of history

Connecticut forward Maya Moore, looking to pass around Baylor’s Shanay Washington, had 34 points and 12 rebounds to key a 70-50 victory, the Huskies’ 77th in a row.

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Connecticut forward Maya Moore, looking to pass around Baylor’s Shanay Washington, had 34 points and 12 rebounds to key a 70-50 victory, the Huskies’ 77th in a row.

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — As soon as Connecticut was challenged, Maya Moore and the Huskies showed exactly why they've won 77 games in a row.

One more and they'll be the first women's team to go undefeated in consecutive seasons.

Behind 34 points and 12 rebounds from Moore, UConn beat Baylor and freshman phenom Brittney Griner 70-50 on Sunday night to advance to the national championship game.

Tina Charles added 21 points and 13 rebounds for UConn (38-0), which plays Stanford on Tuesday night for the title.

The Huskies defeated Stanford 80-68 when the teams met on Dec. 23 in Hartford. That's the closest any team has come all season to Connecticut, which has won every game during its streak by double digits.

Stanford handed UConn its last loss, in the 2008 national semifinals.

Most of the pregame attention was on the imposing center matchup of Griner and Associated Press player of the year Charles. Griner finished with 13 points and five blocks.

The Bears (27-10) had no answer for Moore. Inside and out, the three-time All-American tormented Baylor.

The Bears cut a 13-point halftime deficit to 41-38 nearly five minutes into the second half, drawing huge cheers from the crowd in the Alamodome that was a sea of yellow and green. The Bears campus is a three-hour bus ride away in Waco. They were the first team to reach the Final Four in its home state since Missouri State made it to St. Louis in 2001.

With the score 45-40, Moore quickly ended any chances of a monumental upset, scoring six of the next eight to restore the double-digit lead. Her jumper made it 53-40 with 10:26 left.

Baylor got no closer than 11 the rest of the game.

Morghan Medlock scored 14 to lead the Bears, who were able to stay with the Huskies as Moore and Charles didn't get much help from the rest of their team. The other Huskies combined for just 15 points.

From the outset the Huskies went right at Griner. Tiffany Hayes hit a layup and drew a foul on the freshman on two of the Huskies' first three possessions. When UConn wasn't going at Griner, Charles was drawing her out of the lane, freeing up the basket for layups.

Stanford hangs on

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Stanford's Nnemkadi Ogwumike was having one of the greatest performances ever at a women's Final Four, yet her team was ahead by only three with 16 seconds left.

So how in the world did she break free for an uncontested layup?

Slipping away from the Oklahoma defenders she'd befuddled all night, Ogwumike took a long inbounds pass near midcourt and strolled in for an easy basket that sent the Cardinal to a 73-66 victory and into the championship game.

"I didn't think I would actually be open," Ogwumike said. "I thought it was an awesome play to run. It was definitely spur of the moment. A great coaching decision. We executed it right and it worked."

Ogwumike scored Stanford's first eight and the final seven, in the last 51.3 seconds, on the way to a career-high 38 points. It was the second most in women's Final Four history, behind the 47 by Texas Tech's Sheryl Swoopes in the 1993 championship game.

Ogwumike also had 16 rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal, which came right after that game-sealing layup, all to screams of delight from family and friends just three hours from her Houston-area home.

They get to watch her play again, too, on Tuesday night, when Stanford (36-1) faces UConn in the final.

This will be Stanford's second NCAA final in three years. The Cardinal is seeking its first championship since 1992.

Fast facts

Championship

Stanford vs. UConn,

8:30 Tuesday, Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas

TV: ESPN

UConn moves to verge of history 04/05/10 [Last modified: Monday, April 5, 2010 1:24am]

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