Connecticut tops Dayton to reach Final Four
Second-half surge carries Huskies; Maryland also advances with a win over Tennessee.
GENO AURIEMMA and his UConn Huskies are back in a familiar place - the Final Four.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored 27 points to help UConn beat Dayton 91-70 last night in the Albany (N.Y.) Regional final to advance to the national semifinals for an eighth straight season.
Now the Huskies (36-1) stand two wins away from a third straight national championship. They accomplished that same feat from 2002-04.
Unlike the first three games of the tournament when UConn won by an average of nearly 48 points, the Huskies got all they could handle from the seventh-seeded Flyers, who weren't intimidated by the top seed, for the game's first 20 minutes.
"When we're challenged, sometimes that's when we're at our best, and that's what we talked about in the locker room and I couldn't be prouder of them and happier for them . . . especially tonight against a great, great team," Auriemma said. "Boy, I'm glad we don't have to play them again."
Trailing at the half for the first time in two seasons, UConn scored the first nine points of the second half during a 15-3 run to take a 58-47 lead with 13:56 left.
A little more than a minute later, Mosqueda-Lewis hit her fifth three-pointer of the game giving her 393 in her career to break the NCAA record for threes. That made it 62-49.
Dayton (28-7) couldn't get within seven the rest of the way thanks in a big part to Mosqueda-Lewis, who finished the game with seven three-pointers.
UConn will play Maryland in the national semifinals Sunday night.
The Flyers reached the regional final for the first time in school history after beating Kentucky in the second round and Louisville in the Sweet 16. Ally Malott scored 14 points, all in the first half, to lead Dayton.
Lexie Brown scored 13 of her 15 points in the second half, Brionna Jones added 14 points and nine rebounds and top-seeded Maryland advanced to its second straight Final Four with a 58-48 win over Tennessee in the Spokane (Wash.) Regional final.
Brown hit three three-pointers in the second half as the Terrapins (34-2) overcame their lowest-scoring first half of the season to knock out the Lady Vols from the NCAAs for the second straight year.
It's the fifth Final Four appearance for the Terrapins and third under coach Brenda Frese.
Shatori Walker-Kimbrough added 12 points for the Terrapins, who held Tennessee to one field goal over the final 5 minutes. Maryland has won 28 straight games.
Ariel Massengale led Tennessee (30-6) with 16 points, but the Lady Vols missed their chance at reaching the Final Four for the first time since 2008.
* Connecticut's governor and UConn's athletic director called on the NCAA to consider moving next year's Women's Final Four out of Indianapolis unless changes are made to Indiana's new religious-objections law.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and other critics contend the law would allow businesses to deny service to gays and lesbians based on religious beliefs. The governor yesterday signed an executive order banning state spending on travel to Indiana.