Huskies aim for UConn Final Four double
Some fans take a March Madness party to the streets. Maya Moore
and her Connecticut teammates enjoyed their boisterous celebration
in a hotel hallway.
The Huskies watched in their rooms glued to the TV on Saturday
night, nervously waiting out the end of UConn’s men’s team playing
for a berth in the Final Four. When Kemba Walker and Co., knocked
off Arizona, the proudest fans were the ones who share an arena and
storied basketball tradition in Storrs, Conn.
”We were screaming in the hallways, high-fiving,
chest-bumping,” Moore said. ”It was awesome to see how our men
are shocking the world. … It’s really fun to watch. We’re
extremely excited and proud of them. It’s giving us a little extra
motivation to play even better.”
Yeah, the last thing the top-seeded Huskies (35-1) need is more
motivation heading into Tuesday’s regional final against Duke.
UConn hasn’t lost this calendar year and is three victories away
from a third straight national title.
Oh, and the second-seeded Blue Devils (32-3) standing as the
roadblock in UConn’s path were left for roadkill in their first
meeting. Moore dominated as usual as UConn surged to a 41-15
halftime lead in an 87-51 win over Duke on Jan. 31.
That was Tyson-Spinks. It was over before fans got comfy in
”They thumped us,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. ”There
was no game there.”
Duke has tried to forget the worst defeat of an otherwise
stellar season. The Blue Devils stoutly defended their season
credentials Monday and insisted they’ve moved on from the abuse
suffered against Connecticut.
McCallie was irked by a steady line of questioning about the
game and what it meant to the program. She rattled off a string of
accomplishments that any coach would love to have: A 20-0 record
entering the first UConn game; ACC regular-season and tournament
titles; and a nine-game winning streak headed into the regional
The Blue Devils, in their ninth regional final in 14 years,
followed the loss with an 82-58 victory over No. 18 Miami.
”I can’t talk about a turnaround. There’s no turnaround,” she
said, curtly. ”There’s been nothing but power and
The Blue Devils will have to erase the embarrassment from their
minds if they have any chance of advancing to the Final Four in
Indianapolis. Duke last made the Final Four in 2006.
”You want that rematch,” Blue Devils guard Jasmine Thomas
said. ”You want that chance to play and do better.”
Duke can’t do worse.
The Blue Devils shot 5 for 32 (16 percent) in the first half.
They missed 13 of 17 3-pointers. The 87 points allowed was a season
worst. Jasmine Thomas was the only scorer in double digits. UConn
outrebounded Duke 49-28.
UConn coach Geno Auriemma said if he switched jobs with
McCallie, he’d tell the Blue Devils the truth: Duke couldn’t have
played any worse and the Huskies couldn’t have been more dominant.
So, what are the odds that will happen again?
Auriemma said his team is as vulnerable as they’ve been the last
three seasons at losing in the tournament.
Even with Moore, the Huskies were seriously threatened in the
semifinal against Georgetown. The Huskies trailed 53-46 with 9:36
left, but responded with a 16-2 run and won 68-63.
Fans love rooting for the underdog, the shocker. Auriemma knows
there’s a booming chorus of fans who would love to see the greatest
program around toppled from the top. He joked he could hear former
broadcaster Howard Cosell in his ear bellowing ”Down Goes UConn!
Down Goes UConn!” as the Hoyas stretched their lead in the second
UConn would love to join the men’s team in the Final Four. The
Huskies accomplished the double in 2004 and 2009. Both teams won
the national championship in 2004.
Moore has led the way on this title run. Moore, the three-time
All-American, is 28 points shy from 3,000 career points. Only six
players in D-I history have reached that milestone. She’d be the
first one to hit 3,000 since Jackie Stiles did it for Missouri
State in 2001.
”She’s the best player in the world,” McCallie said. ”She’s
the greatest women’s basketball player alive today.”
Moore, who had 23 points and 14 rebounds against Georgetown,
downplayed the achievement. She doesn’t care as much about 3,000 as
she does about three – as in national titles.
”Winning a national championship outweighs that record by
far,” she said.
Moore scored 29 points against the Huskies in the first game, so
3,000 is within reach. The Blue Devils simply had no answer for
”We have no idea how to beat them,” McCallie said. ”We’ll
see. We’ll have to find something out.”