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

Acciari glad to be back with B's after missing a month

bruins-noel-acciari.jpg

Acciari glad to be back with B's after missing a month

BOSTON -- Noel Acciari missed a month of game action with a lower body injury, so it would have been perfectly acceptable to show plenty of rust in his game upon returning to the Boston lineup.

But the former Providence College standout didn’t look rusty, a step behind or out of place in any way as he played the fourth line energy forward role to a perfect fit after missing the last 13 games. Acciari did get in one game with the Providence Bruins prior to suiting back up for the Black and Gold on Saturday, and perhaps that helped him manufacture a couple of shots on net to go along with three thumping hits against the Maple Leafs.

The 25-year-old Acciari didn’t factor into the scoring at all for the Bruins, but that’s just as well given that his focus should be on killing penalties, being hard to play against and taking the body whenever the chance presents itself. Claude Julien reformed the B’s energy line that had so much success earlier in the season with Acciari, Dominic Moore and Tim Schaller, and didn’t hesitate tossing them back into the mix together while looking for energy and a spark for an offensively stunted team.

“It’s good to be back with my linemates, and you know, I think we kind of picked up where we left off, but there’s definitely things we need to work on. That’ll come with a couple more practices and games together,” said Acciari, who finished theSaturday loss with three registered hits packed into 11:35 of ice time. “Kind of getting back to our familiarity and kind of get back to where we were before I got injured.

“It was a good start tonight, but we definitely just weren’t clicking like we used to, but that’ll come. I think that will come. Like I said, a couple practices and just kind of getting some games in [are good things]. I thought we were pretty good tonight, but, you know, should get more pucks to score [goals].”

Clearly there is room for improvement for everybody including Acciari, but it was encouraging to see the fearless competitor again flying around on the TD Garden ice playing high intensity hockey for a fourth line that could use every little bit of that. 

Backes: "Offensive frustration is warranted at this point"

Backes: "Offensive frustration is warranted at this point"

BOSTON -- This may not come as a surprise, but the Boston Bruins are having some trouble putting the puck in the net.

Despite outshooting the Maple Leafs by an 11-2 margin in the first period and outshooting them by a 32-21 margin over the balance of the 60 minute game, the Bruins scratched for just a single goal in a frustrating, constipated 4-1 loss to Toronto at TD Garden. Clearly some of the offensive difficulty was caused by a solid Frederik Andersen, who improved to 6-0-0 in a career against Boston that’s beginning to take on Bruins Killer proportions.

But a great deal of the B’s struggles to finish scoring chances on Saturday night is a malady that’s dogged the Bruins all season, and marked the 20th time in 29 games this year that Boston has scored two goals or less. In most of these games the Bruins have dominated puck possession and outshot their opponents, but still have come away mostly empty handed in the goals scored department while dropping deep in the bottom third of NHL offenses this season.

“It seems like every game we’re out-chancing teams, but we don’t outscore teams. That’s where the biggest issue is right now. Our scoring is not there and if you don’t score goals you don’t win hockey games,” said Claude Julien. “Because of that we criticize everything else in our game, but our game isn’t that bad.

“If we were scoring goals people would love our game right now, but that’s the biggest part. There’s not much more I can say here except for the fact that if we don’t score goals it’s going to be hard to win hockey games.”

But the Bruins aren’t scoring goals consistently, their power play is below average while trending in the wrong direction and the team has been forced to watch steady offensive players like Patrice Bergeron suddenly slump in a concerning way. Clearly David Pastrnak is doing his part with 18 goals scored this season in 24 games, and others like Brad Marchand and Dominic Moore have also performed above, or beyond, their acceptable level of play.

But there are other players failing with the chance to make an offensive dent: Austin Czarnik has been on the roster for nearly two months, and has zero goals and two points in his last 15 games as the offense is again dried up on the third line. He missed wide on a shorthanded chance in the third period after a Moore centering pass set up him all alone in front, and was critiquing himself for fanning on a perfect dish to him in the slot.

Moments later the Leafs had an insurance score from James van Riemsdyk to make it a 3-1 game, and it was all over for the Black and Gold at that point.

Czarnik is an easy target because he’s young and inexperienced, but there is more than enough struggle and frustration to go around with a bunch of offensive players that can’t seem to get out of their own way. David Backes admitted it’s reached a point where the Bruins are frustrated when they can’t score enough to beat a team like Toronto, and that it falls squarely on the lead guys in the Black and Gold dressing room that are underperforming.

“I think offensive frustration is warranted at this point; we just haven’t done a good enough job scoring goals. We played a heck of a first period. We limited them to two shots and we had an opportunity to have a team that’s coming in here that’s a younger team, to really put them behind the eight ball,” said Backes. “Instead, they think they got a second lease on life and they were able to capitalize. All of the sudden, they were up 2-0 and we’re fighting an uphill battle again rather than -- we have that opportunity to play a heck of a first period and we don’t find a way – it’s easy to talk about, but it’s going out there and doing the job and putting it past or through the goalie, or however it needs to happen. “You’ve seen our goals; you want to do a study on it unless you’re Pasta [David Pastrnak] with the one-timer on the side, it’s been ugly, it’s been rebounds, it’s been greasy goals and that’s our equation and we need more of it, and we didn’t do it. They did a good job of being in front of their net and boxing out, eliminating those second chances. But, we’ve got good players in here that need to create more and find those second chances and win those battles, find those loose pucks, and throw them in the net.”

The Bruins have been talking seemingly all season about the need to get to the “dirty areas in the offensive zone”, and for players to jump all over the second and third chance opportunities currently going by the board unchallenged on goalie rebounds.

Now it’s about speaking with action for the B’s, and more specifically speaking volumes with goals and offensive finish instead of “chances” that aren’t doing much of anything if they’re not being snapped into the back of the net.