UConn women romp, advance to Final Four

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UConn women romp, advance to Final Four

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Maya Moore is headed to the Final Four with a chance to pad perhaps the most impressive resume in the history of women's college basketball with yet another championship.

Connecticut's latest star is already a four-time All-American with 3,000 career points. Nice personal milestones for sure, but far from the biggest prize.

To her and the rest of the Huskies it's all about cutting down those nets in Indianapolis and locking up a third straight national title.

Moore scored 28 points, including the 3,000th of her career, to lead top-seeded UConn to a 75-40 win Tuesday night against Duke and a fourth straight trip to the Final Four.

"I don't think about it right now," Moore said about becoming the seventh Division I player to reach the 3,000-point mark. "Of course it's really exciting to be at a program where I've been able to flourish as an offensive player."

Coach Geno Auriemma wasn't surprised by his star's huge game.

"We did talk in the locker room that this was going to be a big night for Maya," Auriemma said. "You could just sense it. Too many games leading up to this where things didn't click for whatever reason. She doesn't let a lot of big games go by without going off in a couple of them."

The Huskies are two victories away from winning their third straight national championship, matching the school's own run from 2002-04 and Tennessee's from 1996-98.

Next up for Auriemma's current juggernaut is Notre Dame on Sunday in the national semifinals.

The two Big East teams are plenty familiar with each other, having played three times this season already. UConn won all of those matchups including a 73-64 victory in the Big East tournament championship game.

"It's going to be rough," Moore said. "We know each other so well and there are not a lot of surprises. It's going to be a battle to grind it out. We're representing well for our conference. It should be fun."

Once again rural Storrs, Conn., is the center of the college basketball world as both the men's and women's teams are in the Final Four. It's the third time in the past seven years that both programs have advanced this far with 2004 culminating in dual titles.

Throw in the football team reaching the BCS as Big East champions for the first time and its the first time ever one school has been in all three events.

"Take that!," Auriemma said.

Earlier in the day, Moore became only the second four-time AP All-American. She was a unanimous choice for the third straight year and has helped Connecticut to an unprecedented 149 victories while losing only three times.

Tuesday night she became the first D-I player to reach 3,000 points since Southwest Missouri State star Jackie Stiles in 2001.

Moore, who earned outstanding player of the regional honors, fell a bit short of achieving the school's first triple-double since Laura Lishness had one in the Big East tournament title game in 1989. Moore finished with 10 rebounds and seven steals.

Bria Hartley shoots past Duke's Jasmine Thomas and Haley Peters. Hartley scored 14 points.

"She does what she always does in big games lifting us on her back," said Auriemma.

Auriemma continue his success in his hometown. The Hall of Fame coach made his first Final Four in 1991 after playing at the regional at the Palestra.

"Here we are 20 years later and that team was pretty special because no one ever expected us to do something like that," he said. "What this team did in its own way with the schedule we played and what we did was an incredible accomplishment."

Auriemma also won his second national championship in Philadelphia in 2000.

Now the Huskies (36-1) are back in the Final Four for the fourth straight season and 12th time in the last 17 years.

The Blue Devils (32-4) faced questions leading up to the game on what they'd do differently than they did in a 36-point blowout loss to UConn on Jan. 31. In that game, the Huskies delivered an early knockout blow, scoring 23 of the first 25 points.

On Tuesday night, UConn got off to another quick start tallying 10 of the first 12 points. But this time Duke survived the early flurry, rallying back behind Shay Selby and Jasmine Thomas.

Selby's back-to-back 3-pointers cut the deficit to 17-14 midway through the half. Duke still trailed by three before UConn threw the knockout punch.

The Huskies scored the final seven points of the half, once again keyed by Moore. She hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key and then ended the period with a baseline jumper that made it 30-20.

Moore had 13 points, nine rebounds and five steals by the break.

The Huskies scored 22 of the first 25 points in the second half to put the game away. Moore had six of the nine points in the spurt, including an acrobatic tip-in off a missed shot that made it 39-22 with 15:56 left.

Her jumper later in the burst gave her 21 points and the Blue Devils still had 22.

Moore broke the 3,000-point milestone on a fouline jumper with 3:45 left in the game. The record basket was a sigh of relief for Huskies fans as Moore had left the game a few minutes earlier after hitting the floor hard. She slowly got up and jogged over to the bench as Auriemma called time out. Moore later said that she had just banged knees with a Duke player and was fine.

After riding the stationary bike on the sideline, Moore returned to get the milestone points.

Maya Moore's 28 points led her to become the seventh Division I player to reach the 3,000-point mark.

"That's the first time I did that with anyone to get something done like that," Auriemma said. "I'm glad we did it and it's out of the way rather than her having to answer about it all week."

Thomas finished her stellar career at Duke with an off-game. The senior guard had 17 points to lead Duke, but was just 7 for 22 from the field.

"Jasmine Thomas has been incredible," Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "She was left a little bit on an island today with not much help offensively."

She was the only player in double figures for Duke, which shot 25 percent from the field compared to UConn's 59 percent.

The Blue Devils were trying to complete a sweep of the top two teams in the Big East conference. Duke knocked off DePaul 70-63 in the regional semifinals.

"We had a great season," Thomas said. "We had a young team and we grew together as a team. This team is going to bounce back from this."

Duke and Connecticut met once before in the regional final when the Blue Devils came away with a 63-61 victory in 2006 before falling in the NCAA championship game to Maryland.

Monique Currie, who played on that Duke team, was in the crowd Tuesday night sitting behind the Blue Devils bench. She hit four key free throws down the stretch to seal that victory over the Huskies.

It was the only previous NCAA tournament meeting between the teams.

-- The Associated Press

Pastrnak's two goals lead Bruins past Panthers, 4-3

Pastrnak's two goals lead Bruins past Panthers, 4-3

BOSTON – The Bruins are undefeated this season when they manage to cobble together three goals in a game. 

It took a little extra as David Pastrnak knifed through former BC defenseman Mike Matheson in overtime for his second goal of the game, and his 15th of the season, to take a 4-3 win over the Panthers at TD Garden. 

It was thought the final offensive push they needed took place in the third period when Ryan Spooner hopped on the David Krejci line with David Backes, and fired a shot at the Boston net that Backes redirected through Roberto Luongo for his seventh of the season. 

But the Panthers tied it up on a Demers goal late in the third period, and that set up Pastrnak’s brilliant one-on-one move for the game-winner for the Black and Gold. 

The Bruins led off the scoring on a nice play by Tim Schaller winning a battle to enter the Florida zone, and then circling around behind the net before burying a one-timer from the slot as he crashed the net to connect with a David Krejci dish headed straight his way. 

The Panthers tied it a period later when the legend, Jaromir Jagr, buried a chance from the slot after his line had hemmed in the David Krejci line and Torey Krug/Adam McQuaid pairing for an extended shift in the Boston zone. It was goal No. 754 of Jagr’s brilliant NHL career as he continues to go strong for the Panthers, and it also tied the game 1-1. 

The Bruins looked like they might haven the lead for good on David Pastrnak’s 14th goal of the season, but it wasn’t mean to be. Pastrnak started it all by protecting a puck and retaining possession from his knees in the corner of the offensive zone. Eventually Patrice Bergeron fired a puck wide of the net, and Brad Marchand unleashed a spinning, no-look pass to a waiting Pastrnak for the easy score past Roberto Luongo. 

The Panthers tied it a second time in the third period when Reilly Smith stripped a puck from Patrice Bergeron going up the center of the ice, and eventually it found its way to Aleksander Barkov for a ripped shot from long distance for his fourth goal of the season. 

Then Florida tied it again in the final minutes of the third on a Jason Demers rebound bid after Mike Matheson’s shot went wide of the net and took a wild carom off the end boards in the exact opposite direction. 

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics struggling with three-pointers

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Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics struggling with three-pointers

You knew the 3-point shots were going to be flying all game long when the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets tipped off Monday night. 
 
Now whether they would go in, that’s another matter entirely. 
 
Boston’s struggles with knocking down the long ball played a pivotal role in them going into the half trailing the Houston Rockets, 58-48.
 
Houston, the NBA’s leader in three-pointers made (14.0) and taken (37.0), were 8-for-21 in the first half on 3s while the Celtics were a not-so-impressive 5-for-18.
 
Despite the shooting struggles, Boston managed to lead 37-36 after a driving lay-up by Jaylen Brown. 
 
But the Rockets had too much firepower and when they weren’t knocking down shots, they were getting to the free throw line where there 18-for-20 compared to Boston which was just 1-for-2.
Here are the first half Stars, Studs and Duds from Monday’s game. 

 

STARS
 
James Harden

The MVP candidate was bringing it all areas, scoring 21 points to go with seven assists. But he was far from perfect, evident by his six turnovers. 
 
Isaiah Thomas

He led the Celtics with 11 points, but looks to be growing frustrated with the lack of calls going the Celtics’ way. Near the end of the second quarter, Thomas was grimacing while holding his right groin. But it didn’t appear to be too big a deal as he hit a 3-pointer just moments later. But it’s worth keeping an eye on in the second half. 
 

STUDS
 
Jaylen Brown

He gave Boston a surprisingly strong lift off the Celtics bench. At the half, he had seven points which included a lay-up that put Boston ahead 37-36.

Trevor Ariza

He doesn’t get a ton of attention, but Ariza’s play has been one of the keys to Houston’s success this season. At the half he had 10 points and six rebounds.

 

DUDS
 
Jonas Jerebko

He got the start tonight, but looks nothing like the high-energy, impact player he has been of late while coming off the bench. He was scoreless in the first half while missing all three of his shot attempts.