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

Bruins know they 'have to go all in' vs. Islanders to control playoff fate

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Bruins know they 'have to go all in' vs. Islanders to control playoff fate

BROOKLYN, NY – The Bruins woke up on Saturday morning and found themselves out of the playoff picture for the first time in months by virtue of the one game in hand the New York Islanders have over the Black and Gold.

That makes Saturday night’s tilt against the Isles at the Barclays Center all the more important. A win will put the Bruins back into the lead for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, and a loss would further drop them out of the playoff picture. It’s the biggest game of the season for the Bruins made that much grander in scale because Tuukka Rask is suddenly out with a lower body injury, and the Bruins will need a superior effort to snap a four game losing streak that has them teetering on the brink of playoff oblivion.

With all this swirling around, the Bruins know they can seize control of their playoff destiny with a win that will send them spinning off in the right direction. A loss will…well, that’s something the B’s don’t even want to entertain at this point after collapsing down the stretch in each of the last two seasons.

“With where we’re at right now, we can’t have any moral victories. Now it’s about doing the job and bearing down. We have to go all in tonight and have a big game. Hopefully the guys understand how important of a game it is and we have a big night,” said Brad Marchand. “I think we’re all excited. This is when we love to play when the game means so much, and it has a playoff feel. We’re fighting for our lives right now. It’s a great mood in the room, so hopefully we have a big bounce back.”

While the big picture can’t possibly be ignored given what’s happened with the Bruins this week, Bruce Cassidy also cautioned that simply viewing Saturday night as a two-point game was the best technique for success. Otherwise things could become overwhelming and packed with too much pressure when it should be something the Bruins are embracing rather than dreading.

“I hope our guys are creating some positive energy out there. This time of year you just need to have that mindset that it’s one game at a time,” said Cassidy. “You don’t look back, and you stay in the moment. That’s the message that gets conveyed to the group and for the most part they’ve done a good job with that. We just need to play our game and play it well.

“I truly believe they’ll bounce back. They didn’t have their best on Thursday and I think we’ve addressed that game. I believe they’ll take a lot of pride in their game tonight. Your leaders need to lead and your followers need to follow, and that’s a recipe for success for most teams. We’re no different and I expect that to be the case [against the Islanders].”

On the other side of the coin, it will be look out below if the Bruins drop a fifth straight game and continue a downward spiral as the Leafs, Lightning and Islanders are seem to be hitting their late season stride at the same time. 

Agudelo's two goals lead Revs past Minnesota 5-2 in home opener

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Agudelo's two goals lead Revs past Minnesota 5-2 in home opener

Juan Agudelo scored two goals to lead the Revolution to a 5-2 victory over Minnesota United in New England's home opener before 11,571 Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.

Agudelo scored in the fourth and 41st minutes as the Revs - held to one goal in their first two games - picked up their first points of the season after opening with losses in Colorado and Dallas.

New England's original home opener, two weeks ago against Orlando, was postponed by cold weather. 

After Collen Warner's goal in the 15th minute tied it for expansion Minnesota, Kei Kamara (21st minute) and Lee Nguyen (penalty kick in the 32nd) made it 3-1 before Agudelo completed a four-goal outburst in the first half with his second goal of the game.

Nguyen's tally moved him into a tie with Steve Ralston for second place on the Revs career goals list with his 42nd. They trail Taylor Twellman (101).

Chris Tierney, playing in his 200th MLS game, all with the Revs, capped the scoring with a penalty-kick goal in the 52nd minute.

The Revs next play Sunday, April 2 on the road against the Portland Timbers.