UConn women rally to beat G'town, 68-63

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UConn women rally to beat G'town, 68-63

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Georgetown knows all about Maya Moore and Connecticut's rich postseason history, and the Hoyas were determined to rock the bracket with one of the NCAA tournament's biggest upsets ever.

Backed into a corner, Moore got some help from fellow senior Lorin Dixon and the Huskies responded.

Moore had 23 points and 14 rebounds, leading Connecticut to a 68-63 victory after the Hoyas led by seven in the second half of their regional semifinal Sunday.

"Me and Maya decided we didn't want our careers to end here today," Dixon said. "That's just a great feeling. I think everyone wanted to continue the tournament."

While Moore put up the numbers, Dixon was the catalyst for the game-changing run.

Connecticut trailed 53-46 with 9:36 left, but responded with a 16-2 run sparked by the 5-foot-4 guard.

"Today was a great reflection of what she's been doing for the last month for every single day," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said of Dixon, who finished with four points, four assists and four steals.

Bria Hartley got the spurt started with a 3-pointer and Dixon followed with a layup off a steal. She then had another steal and fed Hartley for an easy lay-in that tied it at 53 with 7:12 left.

Moore then scored four straight and, after Alexa Roche's basket, Hartley capped the run with a 3-pointer that made it 62-55 with 4:03 left.

Monica McNutt's 3-pointer got Georgetown within four with 1:41 remaining, but Moore answered with a long jumper from the corner to seal the win.

"My players aren't in these situations very often and it's good to be tested," Auriemma said. "It's easy to be a winner when you're winning. You find out a lot about yourself when you have to go and win. We found out a lot about us today."

Hartley added 17 points for UConn (35-1), which is now three victories away from a third straight national championship that would match the school's own run from 2002-04 and Tennessee's from 1996-98.

This was the third meeting between the two Big East teams in the past 30 days. UConn won the first two games by double digits, but Georgetown was able to remain close in those games by forcing the Huskies into a combined 47 turnovers with its relentless pressure.

The Hoyas (24-11) showed no fear from the start on Sunday, giving the top-seeded Huskies all they could handle. McNutt led the way with 17 points.

"Our program is on the rise," McNutt said. "We're past moral victories - we should be in the Elite Eight."

It was Auriemma's 80th victory in the NCAA tournament, moving him into second on the career wins list for men or women. Tennessee coach Pat Summitt is tops with 109, and Duke men's coach Mike Krzyzewski is third with 79 victories.

Auriemma has had a lot of success in Philadelphia, making his first Final Four in 1991 after playing at the regional at the Palestra. In 2000, Auriemma's team won its second national championship here.

While UConn is a regular in the round of 16, Georgetown is a relative newcomer. The Hoyas have been this far only once before in 1992-93. That team lost to Virginia in the regional semifinals.

Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy, who was an assistant on that 1993 team, doesn't think it will be another 18-year wait for the Hoyas to return to this level.

"I think we're only a few notches away," she said. "Really one more player."

Sensing the buzz around the women's program, the school sent up two bus loads of boisterous students to the game and the Hoyas gave their fans plenty to cheer about.

Sugar Rodgers had said on Saturday that the coaching staff put together a highlight film showing the team the two good halves they had played against UConn in the previous two meetings. They added one more Sunday, but couldn't close it out after leading 35-32 at halftime.

The Hoyas continued to press UConn in the second half, building their lead with the 3-pointer. McNutt and Rodgers hit back-to-back 3s to make it 47-42 with 15:41 left.

Tia Magee then added four straight points to give the Hoyas a seven-point lead before UConn took over.

"We didn't hit shots," Williams-Flournoy said. "Sugar missed a layup, we turned the ball over twice. Against a team like Connecticut you can't make those kinds of mistakes. That's the only way you're going to give yourself any kind of cushion to beat Connecticut. They have Maya Moore, she hit those big shots."

The Huskies haven't lost in the round of 16 since Stanford beat them in 2005. It has been 12 years since they lost as a one seed in the regional semifinals, falling to Iowa State in 1999.

Even Auriemma kidded in the press conference Saturday that his family and friends weren't going to show up until the championship game Tuesday night when the Huskies will play the winner of the Duke-DePaul game.

They would have missed a great game.

The Huskies have won 23 straight overall and 70 in a row against Big East schools.

-- The Associated Press

Chara probable vs. Panthers, Beleskey misses morning skate

Chara probable vs. Panthers, Beleskey misses morning skate

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- There were both expected and unexpected absences from Bruins morning skate on Monday morning at Warrior Ice Arena ahead of tonight’s game at TD Garden against the Florida Panthers. Matt Beleskey was the expected absence after getting knocked out of Saturday’s game with a lower body injury caused by a Tyler Fedun check to his right leg, and Torey Krug was also missing from the ice after pulling workhorse duty over the last handful of games in the absence of Zdeno Chara.

Following practice Claude Julien confirmed that Chara was “probable” to return for tonight’s game vs. the Florida Panthers after missing the last six games, and that Krug is expected to play after succumbing to the same illness that felled Patrice Bergeron over the weekend. Beleskey was being checked by doctors on Monday, and it sounds like his absence might be a bit longer term than simply a “day-to-day” lower body injury. 

Noel Acciari took part in practice, and it appears they both could be closing in on a return to the lineup. Frank Vatrano also shot the puck around a bit at the very beginning of Monday’s skate, but came off the ice as the team began their preparations for tonight’s game. 

Here are the Bruins projected line combos and D-pairings vs. Florida based on the morning skate with Beleskey and Krug both absent:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

Schaller-Krejci-Backes

Spooner-Nash-Czarnik

Blidh-Moore-Hayes/Acciari

Chara-Carlo

Morrow-McQuaid

K. Miller-C. Miller

Rask

Khudobin

Belichick on keeping Brady in: 'Seen those double-digit leads evaporate'

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Belichick on keeping Brady in: 'Seen those double-digit leads evaporate'

With 5:52 remaining in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game between the Patriots and Rams, and with the hosts up 26-3, quarterback Tom Brady was back on the field to lead the Patriots offense. 

It was a decision that had some scratching their heads. Why risk the health of your Hall of Fame quarterback in a game that's essentially been decided? Particularly at this point in the year? Particularly just days after the team lost it's most dynamic offensive weapon to season-ending back surgery?

"Well, after the game turns out, it's easy to go back and make those suggestions," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said on a conference call Monday. "I've seen a few games in this league. Seen those double-digit leads evaporate in a minute or two. I know that's not a big concern when it does happen and then when it does happen it's a major crisis and [there's] a lot of second-guessing about what should've been done or what shouldn't have been done. Trying to win the game."

The Patriots held the ball for a little over two minutes before punting it back to the Rams. By the time the Patriots got the ball back for the final time with 1:15 remaining, Brady was on the field to take two kneeldowns and wipe out the clock. 

He told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show on Monday morning that he wasn't looking for an early hook. The Rams have been accused of dirty plays in the past, and their coaching staff has a reputation for encouraging a reckless style, but Brady explained why he wanted to remain in the game late.

"All these games are close. I know yesterday, 26-3 at one point, but we’re playing for a lot here," he said. "i don’t think it’s ever right to take your foot off the gas pedal. We could use as many reps as possible, all the guys out there. There are different situations that come up in every game. You only get 16 weeks a year to try them out. You try them in practice, but there’s not the speed. There’s not the urgency. It’s not the decision-making because it’s unscripted.

"In practice you go and talk about these are the plays you’re going to run, these are the defenses you can get. Then you go into the game and they it’s all about decision-making really under pressure with everything on the line, so the more reps you can get with Malcolm [Mitchell] and [Chris] Hogan and Martellus [Bennett], guys that I haven’t played with, the better it gets."

Brady escaped his late-game reps no worse for the wear -- he completed three of four passes for 14 yards on his team's second-to-last drive -- but he did take one shot earlier in the game that had him ticked. Rams safety TJ McDonald got into the Patriots backfield untouched and drove Brady into the ground during a second-quarter drive. Brady got the ball away, but he was walloped, and when he got up he sought out McDonald for a few words.

"I think it was pretty emotional," Brady told Kirk and Callahan. "I didn’t see the replay yet, but he made a good clean hit. They were blitzing us. I knew we didn’t have him picked up and he put a little extra something on.”

Asked if the threat of a play like that late in a lopsided game bothered him, Brady said no.

"I said to my wife as I was driving home, she was like, ‘What was that?’ She wants to know about all these things and I was like, ‘I think it is all fair on the football field.’ You put yourself out there," Brady explained. "You’re up 20, you’re down 20. Everyone is playing hard and whatever happens out there is on the football field. I don’t think it was a dirty play.

"Guys love going in there and hitting the quarterback. They’ve been trained to hit the quarterback their entire careers, especially on defense. They get paid more hitting the quarterback. Their team is 4-8 so they are going to play hard 'til the end no matter what. They haven’t been in a lot of games this year so they are going to play hard to try and set them up for next year. I had no problem with that hit. I thought it was a real clean play. I was pretty pissed off for the most part yesterday because we weren’t executing as well as we could and that probably had something to do with it as well."