UConn, Notre Dame advance to Big East women’s title game
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Breanna Stewart and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis each scored 14 points and No. 3 Connecticut beat 22d-ranked Syracuse, 64-51, Monday night in the Big East women’s tournament semifinals in Hartford.
The Huskies will face top-seeded Notre Dame on Tuesday night for the title. The teams have met in the championship game six times, including the past two, and the Huskies have come away with victories in each one.
Still the Irish have had the Huskies’ number like no other team. Notre Dame has won six of the past seven meetings since losing to the Huskies in the 2011 Big East title game. The teams played a thrilling triple-overtime game last Monday night. UConn had a lot of chances to pull out that victory but couldn’t.
Against Syracuse, the Huskies (29-3) led by 15 at the half, but uncharacteristically couldn’t pull away.
Kayla Alexander scored 14 to lead the Orange (24-7).
UConn led, 24-18, midway through the first half before Mosqueda-Lewis started a 15-6 run with a 3-pointer. Her second three of the burst made it 32-22. Then, Stewart scored 6 of the next 8 points. Her jumper in the lane made it 39-24 with 2:57 left in the half.
Trailing, 46-27, Syracuse rallied. Carmen Tyson-Thomas hit two 3-pointers sandwiched around Elashier Hall’s basket. Brianna Butler’s layup capped a 13-3 run and brought the Orange within 9. That’s as close as they could get because of the strong play by Stewart.
In the early semifinal, Kayla McBride scored 17 points and Skylar Diggins added 14 to help the No. 2 Fighting Irish beat 16th-ranked Louisville, 83-59.
The top-seeded Irish extended a school record with their 25th straight victory. Only top-ranked Baylor, Notre Dame’s only loss of the season, has a longer active winning streak.
The Irish (30-1) led the Cardinals by 6 at the break before opening the second half with a 13-2 run to take command. Shoni Schimmel scored 20 points to lead Louisville (24-8).
Big 12 final — Brittney Griner scored 31 points and top-ranked Baylor (32-1) won its third consecutive conference tournament championship, rolling past No. 23 Iowa State, 75-47, in Dallas.
West Coast final — Haiden Palmer scored 18 points, Taelor Karr added 14, and Gonzaga (27-5) earned its fifth straight NCAA Tournament berth with a 62-50 win over San Diego (21-9) in Las Vegas.
Sun Belt final — Ebony Rowe scored 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead Middle Tennessee (25-7) to a 53-48 victory over Arkansas-Little Rock in Hot Springs, Ark., and its fifth straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
Southern final — Kayla Christopher scored off an offensive rebound with 8.2 seconds left to lift Chattanooga (29-3) to a 64-63 victory over Davidson in Asheville, N.C. Sophia Aleksandravicius had 18 points and 11 rebounds for Davidson (21-11).
Patriot semifinals — Amy Lepley had 19 points and eight rebounds and Holy Cross rolled to a 59-38 win over Colgate in Worcester. Brisje Malone and Alex Smith combined to contribute 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Crusaders (18-13) . . . Alix Membreno finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists to lead host Navy (20-11) to a 60-48 win over Bucknell and a trip to the final against Holy Cross Saturday in Annapolis, Md.
West Coast final — Kelly Olynyk had 21 points and 12 rebounds, and top-ranked Gonzaga bolstered its case for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament by routing Saint Mary’s, 65-51, in Las Vegas. The deep Bulldogs (31-2) shot 52 percent and dominated inside. Elias Harris added 19 points for Gonzaga, which had a 42-18 advantage in the paint. Saint Mary’s (27-6) went 7 for 27 from 3-point range.
Metro Atlantic final — Tre Bowman came off the bench to score 20 points and Iona (20-13) used a 12-2 run midway through the second half to take control and beat Manhattan, 60-57, in Springfield, Mass.
Sun Belt final — George Fant had 17 points and 13 rebounds and Western Kentucky (20-15) earned its second straight NCAA Tournament berth with a 65-63 win over Florida International in Hot Springs, Ark.
Southern final — De’Mon Brooks had 24 points and eight rebounds, and Davidson (26-7) defended its conference championship with a wire-to-wire 74-55 victory over the College of Charleston in Asheville, N.C.