UConn women beat Purdue in second round, 64-40

UConn women beat Purdue in second round, 64-40

STORRS, Conn. (AP) -- Tiffany Hayes scored 23 points, Maya Moore added 16 and No. 1 Connecticut put on a defensive clinic to beat ninth-seeded Purdue 64-40 on Tuesday night in the second round of the women's NCAA tournament.

The Huskies (33-1) advanced to the regional semifinals for the 18th straight season, the longest active streak in the nation. The victory was UConn's 22nd straight overall and 83rd in a row at home.

Moore and fellow senior Lorin Dixon were playing their final game at Gampel Pavilion. The pair became the first UConn seniors to finish unbeaten at home, going 40-0 at their on-campus arena. The duo also went undefeated on their other home court, the XL Center in Hartford.

The two improved to an unbelievable 148-3 overall in their careers.

Drey Mingo scored nine points to lead Purdue (21-12).

The Huskies will play in Philadelphia on Sunday against No. 4-seed Maryland or fifth-seeded Georgetown. Duke will face DePaul in the other semifinal in Philadelphia.

Leading 9-7 with 13:47 left in the first half, UConn held Purdue to one field goal over the next 13 minutes to extend its advantage to 26-11 on Hayes' free throw.

Usually when the Huskies turn up their defensive pressure is when they blow games open with quick runs. This was more of a slow walk, thanks to a strong defensive effort by Purdue.

UConn, which averaged 77.6 points a game, had to scrap for every point. Hayes had eight points during the spurt and Hartley added five. Her 3-pointer with 6:15 left in the half made it 21-9. That was the last basket the Huskies would get before the break, but they hit seven free throws down the stretch to give themselves a 15-point halftime lead.

Antionette Howard's layup with 8:26 left in the half was the only basket Purdue would get before Mingo scored with 22 seconds left. Moore's two free throws with a tenth of a second left gave UConn a 28-13 lead at the break. It was the fewest points in a first half ever for the Boilermakers. They had 14 against Ohio State in 1976.

UConn opened the second half with a 19-3 run to put the game away. Hayes had two 3-pointers to start the burst and hit another 3 with 12:51 left to close it, giving UConn a 47-16 lead.

Hayes had outscored Purdue 21-16 at that point.

The Boilermakers could only get within 23 the rest of the game, barely surpassing their previous low-point total of 28 set in that game 35 years ago against the Buckeyes.

Moore's three-point play with 4:57 left moved her into eighth place on the NCAA career scoring list. She passed Valorie Whiteside of Appalachian State, who had 2,944 points.

The Huskies held Purdue to just 26 percent shooting (14 for 54) and outrebounded the Boilermakers 55-30, including grabbing 23 offensive boards.

Moore finished with 13 rebounds and Stefanie Dolson had 10 to go along with 11 points.

This was the Boilermakers' sixth straight loss to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. They fell to Oklahoma in the regional final in 2009 and didn't make the tournament last season.

The loss ended an inspiring season for the Boilermakers. Mingo went down in November with a life-threatening case of meningitis. Given about a 50-percent chance of survival, she returned to the court just 16 days later.

Despite significant hearing loss, she played well to the end of the season. Mingo had 16 points in the Boilermakers' opening-round win over Kansas State.
-- The Associated Press

WATCH: Celtics vs. Knicks

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Celtics-Knicks preview: Thomas scoring at record pace in fourth quarter

Celtics-Knicks preview: Thomas scoring at record pace in fourth quarter

WALTHAM, Mass. –  As the fourth quarter rolls around, you will occasionally catch Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas looking down at his wrist, a gesture to remind anyone watching what time it is – Thomas time.

There are those who elevate their play in the fourth quarter of games, and then there’s Thomas who continues to smoothly navigate his way in unchartered fourth quarter scoring territory.

The Celtics begin the second half of the season Wednesday night against the New York Knicks, and there sits Thomas atop all players in the NBA when it comes to fourth-quarter scoring.

But that’s not all.

He’s not only dropping more points than any other NBA player in the most important quarter of them all, but he’s doing so at an unprecedented level of 10.1 fourth-quarter points per game.

Since NBA.com/stats began tracking fourth quarter scoring with the 1997-1998 season, no player has averaged more than 9.5 fourth-quarter points (LeBron James, 2006) in a season.

What makes Thomas’ fourth quarter heroics so impressive is that everyone in the building – fans, coaches, opponents – knows that’s when he’s looking to be most impactful for the Celtics and yet he still can’t be stopped.

Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford acknowledged how tough it is to limit Thomas despite knowing he’s looking to take over games in the fourth.

“It’s hard because the blitz game is impossible because they don’t roll,” said Clifford whose Hornets were beaten 108-98 by Boston on Monday. “If you watch the teams that try to blitz them, you’re going to give up basically lay-ups. We had things in to get the ball out of his hands but the way they played and the stuff that they usually go to late, they didn’t get to. He (Thomas) made some terrific plays; he’s a terrific offensive player.”

Despite what he does in the fourth and his overall scoring average of 28.2 points which is ranked among the league’s leaders, there are still lots of doubters as to how good Thomas.

Regardless of how you view his play, he has consistently played at a level this season that places him among the game’s best players.

And at the rate he’s scoring in the fourth quarter, he’s establishing himself as one of the great closers in the game.

Consider the list of players in the past decade who led the league in points scored in the fourth quarter.

  • 2016: James Harden (7.7)
  • 2015: Russell Westbrook (7.1)
  • 2014: Kevin Durant (7.9)
  • 2013: Kevin Durant (8.4)
  • 2012: Kevin Durant (7.3)
  • 2011: Amare Stoudemire (7.1)
  • 2010: LeBron James (8.0)
  • 2009: LeBron James (7.7)
  • 2008: LeBron James (9.1)
  • 2007: Dwyane Wade (8.2)

You have All-stars, All-NBA First Teamers, league MVPs as well as a few future Hall of Famers.

As good as those players were in their respective seasons, when the game mattered most – the fourth quarter – Thomas numbers (for now at least) stand head and shoulders above them all.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens gives Thomas a lot of credit for being such a consistent scorer, particularly in the fourth quarter.

But as good as Thomas is, he’s not out there getting all these baskets on his own, either.

“It says a lot about the fact that he’s got a lot of skilled guys around him that are hard to leave,” Stevens said. “When you’re playing Kelly (Olynyk) and Jonas (Jerebko) together with him, there’s a lot of space on the floor to operate. When those guys are at the four (power forward) and five (center), when you’re playing guys like Al Horford who can space the floor or Avery (Bradley) or Jae (Crowder), you know, those types of guys … at the end of the day I think that it’s a combination of a lot of things.”

And for opponents, a lot of problems.

“He’s been playing well,” Hornets guard Kemba Walker said of Thomas. “He’s been playing better than anyone in our league. He’s playing with great confidence and making the plays for his team to win games. He’s been great.”