UConn defeats Dayton, Maryland tops Tennessee to reach Final Four
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Getting to the Final Four never gets old for Geno Auriemma and his UConn Huskies.
"I love going to the Final Four. I don't care how many times it is, what the total number is. I love it for the fact that some of my players have never been there," Auriemma said.
"When you get a chance to go, you feel like you did something pretty significant. We did it over and over again. Some kids don't get to go once."
Now the Huskies 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 3-pointer of the game giving her 393 in her career to break the NCAA record for 3s. 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 3-pointers.
"It eases my mind a lot," Mosqueda-Lewis said of getting the record. "Now I only have one thing to worry about — a national championship."
Breanna Stewart added 23 points and 16 rebounds while Morgan Tuck had 23 points for the Huskies (36-1). Stewart was selected as the Most Outstanding Player of the region.
UConn will play Maryland in the national semifinals Sunday night.
Auriemma was concerned before the game about Dayton's wide-open style which features multiple players on the court who can hit 3s.
The Flyers went shot for shot with the Huskies for the first 20 minutes with neither team able to get more than a five-point lead.
Dayton made its first four 3-pointers and hit seven of the first 10 shots from behind the arc to put the pressure on the Huskies. UConn got a little breathing room going up 43-38 with just over three minutes left in the half and looked poised to take control.
But the Flyers didn't wilt. They scored the final six points before break to go into the locker room up 44-43. That brought the strong contingent of Dayton fans to their feet as they serenaded their team with a loud ovation as they ran into the locker room.
"Really proud of our guys, we competed, weren't intimidated," Dayton coach Jim Jabir said. "They are the best team in the country, bar none. ... For a long time we hung around and hung around. I couldn't be more proud, this was a great day."
This was the first time since the Big East final in 2013 that the Huskies trailed at the half. They weren't rattled.
The loss ended the seventh-seeded Flyers' improbable run. They 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.
TIP-INS: Dayton — Coach Jim Jabir fell to 0-10 in his career against the Huskies. He was winless in eight games while coaching at Providence from 1996-2002. The Friars lost by an average of 43 points, including a 78-point defeat in 1998. He also lost as coach of the Flyers four years ago. ... Dayton was the fourth No. 7 seed to advance to the regional finals since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1994. Only Minnesota in 2004 made it to the Final Four.
Connecticut — Mosqueda-Lewis broke the 3-point mark held by Laurie Koehn of Kansas State and Heather Butler of UT-Martin. They both hit 392. ... The 44 points at the break were the most a UConn opponent had scored against them in the first half since DePaul had 47 in 2008.
TO CUT OR NOT TO CUT: As is tradition for the Huskies, they didn't cut down the nets after beating Dayton. Auriemma couldn't remember when that started, but said it wasn't a conscious thing.
"We have the option of cutting the nets down, but we'd rather save that special thing for if we get the chance to cut the net down one time at the end of the year," said Mosqueda-Lewis, who along with her teammates were wearing shirts that said "Cut the Net."
"We'd rather cut it down for a national championship, something we'd save and do one time if we could."
TALE OF TWO HALVES: Dayton shot 51% (18-for-35) in the first half and just 37% (10-for-27) in the second.
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Maryland is going back to consecutive Final Fours and for the second straight year the Terrapins pushed aside Tennessee to get there.
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 on Monday in the Spokane Regional final.
Brown hit three 3-pointers in the second half as the Terrapins (34-2) overcame their lowest-scoring first half of the season to knock out Tennessee 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.
Next up for the Terrapins: Connecticut in the national semifinals. The Terrapins lost to Notre Dame in last year's national semis.
Tennessee's focus all season had been on getting back to the Final Four, which just so happened to be in Tampa, Florida this season, the site of the Lady Vols' most recent Final Four appearance and most recent national title.
That task became far more difficult when leading scorer Isabelle Harrison was lost for the season to a knee injury in February.
Tennessee showed resiliency in the aftermath of Harrison's injury and again in the Sweet 16, rallying from 17 down with less than 7 minutes remaining to beat hometown Gonzaga in overtime.
But the Lady Vols' run ended against the Terrapins.
Maryland trailed by as many as five early in the second half, but that deficit was gone immediately after Walker-Kimbrough scored in transition — Maryland's first fast-break points — and followed with a 3-pointer.
Brown added a 3 and Jones scored inside and Maryland's lead was 39-34 with 10:50 left.
Tennessee answered with 10 of the next 12 points behind 3s from Massengale and Cierra Burdick to go up 3. But Brown's 3-pointer tied the game at 44 and started Maryland on a 17-4 run to close the game. Brown added a layup with 1:10 left for a 51-46 lead.
Massengale answered for Tennessee and the Lady Vols' press forced a turnover. But Burdick's attempt at a tying 3-pointer was short and went out of bounds with 41.9 seconds left and Maryland hit 7 of 8 free throws in the final minute.
TIP-INS: Tennessee: The 21-point first half for the Lady Vols was tied for the third fewest in any game this season. Tennessee was held to 18 against Arkansas. ... Tennessee is 18-9 all-time in Elite Eight games.
Maryland: The Terrapins' victory over Tennessee in the 2014 Sweet 16 came on the same date, March 30. ... Maryland is 5-5 all-time in regional finals. ... Maryland was held to a season-low 22 points in the first half but led 22-21.