March 29, 2005

Michigan St. Women Also Gain Final Four

Make some room, Michigan State men. You've got company. Liz Shimek and the Michigan State women also are going to the Final Four — a first for the program.
(2) Stanford (32-2) vs. (1) Michigan St. (31-3)
Game Info: 7:00 pm EST Tue Mar 29, 2005
Kansas City Region - Municipal Auditorium (Kansas City, MO)

Stanford made sure there will be a new national champion this year, but the Cardinal still has a lot of work to do if they want to capture the title themselves.

Confronted with knocking off yet another national powerhouse, the Cardinal look to claim a spot in the Final Four when they meet top-seeded Michigan State in the Kansas City Regional final.

Despite having the nation's No. 1 ranking at season's end, Stanford was left with a No. 2 seed in the region, potentially forcing them to get through both the defending national champion and a No. 1 seed just to reach Indianapolis.

Stanford took care of the first part by eliminating three-time defending national champion Connecticut with a 76-59 victory Sunday night.

Now the Cardinal must get past the Spartans, who can continue their best season ever by giving their school two teams in the Final Four. The Michigan State men advanced with a wild 94-88 double-overtime victory over Kentucky on Sunday.

Both Stanford and Michigan State used strong second-half performances to get through their regional semifinal opponents.

Michigan State shot 62.1 percent in a 46-point second half against Vanderbilt, while Stanford made 57.7 percent of its shots while scoring 49 points in the final 20 minutes against UConn.

The Spartans earned a top seed that many thought would go to Stanford, but they weren't playing like a No. 1 when they fell behind the Commodores 37-30 at halftime. They quickly turned things around by scoring 18 of the first 21 points in the second half, using their balanced scoring and rebounding to pull away for a 76-64 victory.

Michigan State had four players in double figures in scoring and two in rebounding, beating the Commodores on the boards 37-22.

``I'm so proud of our team and their second-half effort,'' Michigan State coach Joanne P. McCallie said. ``It really was incredible.''

Balance is one of the biggest strengths on a Michigan State team that is in a regional final for the first time. The Spartans have four players, all juniors and seniors, averaging double figures. Senior Kristin Haynie had the second triple-double in team history with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists against Vandy.

Stanford's strength comes from one of its youngest players. Freshman Candice Wiggins scored 21 points Sunday and keyed Stanford's rally from a six-point halftime deficit.

Though Wiggins is a second-team All-American and the Pac-10 player of the year, and her team has won 23 straight games, both had been occasionally overlooked nationally before Sunday's victory.

``This is exactly what we wanted,'' Wiggins said. ``We didn't want to say anything. We wanted to show the rest of the country what kind of team we are. We did that.''

Stanford hasn't lost since Dec. 29. Michigan State has been nearly as good, winning 15 in a row since its last loss on Jan. 23.

The Cardinal, who have won two national championships, are trying to get back to the Final Four for the first time since 1997.

Michigan State can keep alive its quest to join UConn as the only school to have the men's and women's champion in the same year. The Huskies accomplished that feat last year.

Stanford has won both previous meetings with Michigan State, in 1979 and 1989.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Stanford - F Azella Perryman (5.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg), C Brooke Smith (13.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg), G Kelley Suminski (11.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg), G Wiggins (17.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg), G Susan King Borchardt (8.7 ppg, 1.8 rpg). Michigan State - F Kelli Roehrig (13.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg), C Liz Shimek (14.7 ppg, 9.1 rpg), G Haynie (10.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg), G Lindsay Bowen (13.8 ppg, 2.4 rpg), G Victoria Lucas-Perry (7.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg).

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Stanford - Automatic bid, Pac-10 tournament champion; beat No. 15 Santa Clara 94-57, first round; beat No. Utah 88-62, second round; beat No. 3 Connecticut 76-59, regional semifinals. Michigan State - Automatic bid, Big Ten tournament champion; beat No. 16 Alcorn State 73-41, first round; beat No. 8 Southern California 61-59, second round; beat No. 5 Vanderbilt 76-64, regional semifinals.

ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORD: Stanford - 43-16, 19 years. Michigan State - 6-5, 6 years.

Stanford star no ordinary freshman

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Stanford's Candice Wiggins is not your average college freshman. For most of the season, she wasn't even as old as one.

No matter: Just six weeks past her 18th birthday, Wiggins is a difference-maker, a composed and mature player the Cardinal are counting on to help restore the program's Final Four tradition.

They're one victory shy of making that happen.

Stanford (32-2), ranked No. 1 nationally but a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, plays top-seeded Michigan State (31-3) on Tuesday night in the final round of the Kansas City Regional. Wiggins should have a major impact -- whether it's scoring, defending, rebounding or passing. She does each with equal aplomb.

``I think Candice is a really special freshman, kind of (because) she isn't like one,'' guard Susan King Borchardt said. ``She's very intense, she's very composed. She's a big part of our team. She's fun to play with because she starts it on the defensive end.''

Wiggins joined a team that had five strong seniors and made them better just by being herself and playing her game. She became the first freshman voted player of the year in the Pac-10 and was chosen most outstanding player at the conference tournament.

And while coach Tara VanDerveer never had any doubts about Wiggins' physical skills, she wondered if she'd be mature enough to handle everything that would be thrown at her. Could she keep her composure when things got tight?

The answer has been a resounding yes, best illustrated by Sunday night's regional semifinal against Connecticut. Wiggins had every reason to get frustrated after a lousy first half -- basket, five turnovers, six points.

But she finished with 21 points while going without a turnover in the second half. Stanford won 76-59 for its 23rd straight victory, ending UConn's hopes of winning a fourth straight national championship.

``She doesn't get down on herself. She doesn't get discouraged or frustrated. She doesn't have excuses,'' VanDerveer said. ``I didn't know when we recruited her about the intangibles and that's what separates her from other players, her ability to focus and not get discouraged.''

VanDerveer also worried about something else with her young star. Wiggins is the daughter of former major league baseball player Alan Wiggins, who died of complications from AIDS at 32, about a month before Candice turned 4.

The Stanford coach knew that as Wiggins' fame grew, she would be asked about her father constantly. If it became too much, VanDerveer would do what she could to counsel her.

It wasn't necessary.

``She's very open about the situation that happened,'' VanDerveer said. ``I think that she in a lot of ways has had a great message for some young people. She'll see other kids with parents and she sends a message to young kids: appreciate your parents. I bet parents like hearing that.''

Wiggins said there's no reason not to talk about her father.

``I'm proud of him,'' she said. ``I'm not sad or ashamed to say anything about it.''

Stanford is trying for its seventh Final Four trip but first since 1997. For Michigan State, this is all new. In five previous NCAA appearances, the Spartans never made it past the second round.

Still, except for the star power that Wiggins brings, the two teams are similar.

Michigan State is strong inside with Kelli Roehrig and Liz Shimek. Stanford counters with Brooke Smith, Azella Perryman and T'Nae Thiel. The Spartans have Kristin Haynie, Lindsay Bowen and Victoria Lucas-Perry on the perimeter. Stanford features Borchardt, Wiggins and Kelley Suminski.

``We are a balanced team down low and outside,'' Bowen said. ``That helped us throughout the season. With us, you can't key on one player because a couple of other players will step up and hurt you.''

Michigan State faces the same challenge with its matchup zone. Surround Wiggins or Smith and someone else gets the ball for an open shot.

``It is just so important to play great team defense,'' said Michigan State coach Joanne P. McCallie, whose team did just that in the second half of a 76-64 semifinal win over Vanderbilt.

McCallie knows stopping the Cardinal will be extremely difficult.

``You're not going to shut down the inside, you're not going to shut down the outside,'' she said. ``But if you simply can make them work very hard, that's a good step in the right direction.''
(1) LSU 59, (2) Duke 49

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- LSU was finally picking on someone its own size, and it looked at first like the top-seeded Lady Tigers had gone soft from feasting on lesser opponents.

But not even Duke could long withstand All-American Seimone Augustus and LSU's furious defense. The top-seeded Lady Tigers are going to a second straight Final Four after beating the second-seeded Blue Devils 59-49 Monday night in the Chattanooga Regional final.

LSU was down early but tied it at halftime, went ahead in the opening minutes of the second half and never trailed again.

The Lady Tigers (33-2) will face second-seeded Baylor, a 72-63 winner over top-seeded North Carolina, in the national semifinals Sunday in Indianapolis.

Augustus finished with 22 points and Sylvia Fowles added 13 points and 11 rebounds.

LSU beat its first three opponents in the tournament by an average of 36 points, but the competition was much tougher Monday.

The Blue Devils (31-5) had a good game plan to go inside and take advantage of their bigger posts, and it worked early. Duke was ahead by as many as 12 in the first half, putting the Lady Tigers in their biggest deficit of the season.

Then LSU turned up its defensive pressure, tipping passes and blocking shots, and brought in Fowles, the 6-foot-5 freshman, from the bench to help clog up the middle. She helped the Lady Tigers outrebound Duke 42-27.

LSU's shooting was cold to start the game, and the Tigers went down 12 points when Alison Bales made a basket over Fowles with 8:14 to go in the first half.

LSU trimmed the lead and then took control when they keyed an 8-0 run to finish the half with three straight takeaways and tie it at 30.

Duke could not regain the intensity they had at the beginning. The Blue Devils got as close as two points with 13:40 remaining, but couldn't stop LSU.

Duke's All-American Monique Currie, who hasn't decided whether she is returning for her senior season, finished with 11 points. Mistie Williams added 15.

(2) Baylor 72, (1) North Carolina 63

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The ugly stain on Baylor basketball is fading. The women are taking care of that.

Sophia Young scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and the second-seeded Lady Bears are headed to the Final Four for the first time in school history after beating No. 1 North Carolina 72-63 Monday night.

Young, whose mother came from the West Indies last week to see her play in college for the first time, was named the MVP of the Tempe Regional.

The Lady Bears (31-3) extended their school-record winning streak to 18 games, leading by as many as 19 points in the second half against the Tar Heels (30-4), who had won 16 straight going into the game.

``You can coach a lifetime and have great teams that are expected to be in the Final Four and never make it,'' said coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson, who took over in 2000 and built the lackluster program into a powerhouse. ``For our team to do it in five short years, I can't say enough about our coaches and players. These are tears of joy.''

The Baylor men's basketball team made it to the Final Four in 1948 and 1950, but that program gained infamy when a former player was accused of murdering a teammate in 2003.

``This means a lot and speaks volumes for what we've done for the Baylor University community,'' said Steffanie Blackmon, holding a piece of the net the players cut down. ``Last year we decided to be the shining light for the university because of everything that happened. We wanted to be something positive for Baylor.''

Chameka Scott, 0-for-9 from 3-point range in her previous two games, was 4-for-8 against North Carolina and scored 18 points for Baylor. Blackmon added 14 points.

The Lady Bears, who hadn't even been to a regional final before, advance to the national semifinals on Sunday in Indianapolis where they will face LSU. The Lady Tigers beat Duke 59-49 on Monday night.

``Baylor has been through so much,'' Scott said. ``If you go back to Waco, we have the whole community behind us. That's part of our momentum and part of what got us so far.''

North Carolina, trying to join the Tar Heel men in the Final Four, shot just 32 percent. Ivory Latta, North Carolina's 5-foot-6 point guard, scored 21 but was bounced around all night by the Baylor defense and was just 6-for-22 shooting, 3-for-13 from behind the 3-point line. Leah Metcalf scored 11 and Nikita Bell 10 for the Tar Heels.

``We know we could have won that game,'' North Carolina freshman Erlana Larkins said. ``We beat ourselves down pretty badly. We didn't box out and we just didn't do the little things.''

Larkins, who scored 18 in North Carolina's victory over Arizona State on Saturday, was held to just six points.

``We took her out of her game,'' Young said. ``I think we got in her mind.''

Two more victories for Baylor would give the Waco school its second national title in any sport. Baylor won the NCAA men's tennis championship last year.

Baylor outscored the Tar Heels 12-2 over the final 5:16 of a sometimes-frenetic and often-sloppy first half to take a 33-24 lead at the break. Scott's 3-pointer with 12:01 to play made it 49-31, and Young's two free throws with 11:01 remaining gave Baylor a 53-34 lead.

The Tar Heels had not faced that big a deficit all season, and responded with an 8-0 run to cut it to 49-38 La'Tangela Atkinson's rebound with 6:57 left. But the closest North Carolina got was seven in the final seconds.

``We didn't get it to Erlanda enough,'' said North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell, looking for only her second Final Four berth in 19 seasons with the Tar Heels. ``We weren't setting screens and getting people open. We were trying fadeaways instead of taking it to them.''

The game was not the up-and-down, freestyling showcase it was supposed to be. There were 42 turnovers, 25 by Baylor and 17 by North Carolina. Eight of the Lady Bears' turnovers were committed by Chelsea Whitaker.

``Hey, Chelsea's my point guard,'' Mulkey-Robertson said, ``and Chelsea's heading to the Final Four.''

West Virginia 80, Kentucky 75, 2OT

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- West Virginia ended its offensive drought just in time against Kentucky.

West Virginia squandered a 22-point second-half lead, but rode a 31-point, 11-rebound performance by Meg Bulger to an 80-75 double-overtime win over Kentucky in the semifinals of the Women's NIT on Monday night at Memorial Coliseum.

West Virginia (21-12) extended its longest postseason run ever and will play Southwest Missouri State on Thursday in the tournament's title game.

``Every time they took the lead, one of our young ladies came down and hit a big shot,'' West Virginia coach Mike Carey said. ``I'm very proud of that. This was a tough place to play, probably the loudest place we've played in all year.''

West Virginia was scoreless for more than 11 1/2 minutes in the second half and lost its sizable lead before rallying and outscoring Kentucky 14-9 in the second overtime.

Bulger, a sophomore guard and the leading scorer in the Big East Conference, had eight points in the second overtime and went 4-of-4 from the free-throw line in the final 26.8 seconds.

``She took the ball to the basket more,'' Carey said. ``I thought in the second overtime, we finally started pushing the ball on a miss.

``It seemed like when we got the 22-point lead, we played not to lose. We didn't play to win. We were a little bit tentative. Finally in that second overtime, I said, 'Let's push it,' and we were able to get six points off the break.''

West Virginia shot 11-for-23 from 3-point range. Sherell Sowho led the way, going 5-for-7 and scoring 21 points. Bulger, who set a school record with her fifth 30-point game of the season, shot 4-for-9 from 3-point range.

West Virginia led 49-27 with 16:43 left, but didn't score again until 5:09 remained. After Sowho's 3-pointer put the Mountaineers ahead by 22 points, West Virginia had just three baskets and nine points in the final minutes of regulation.

``That's not a pretty stat,'' Bulger said of the scoring drought. ``It's something you never, ever want to happen in a game. But luckily we pulled together in the end, and our defense kept us in it when we weren't scoring.''

Kentucky (18-16) took its first lead at 53-52 with 2:27 left in regulation. West Virginia regained the lead before Sara Potts made a 6-footer with 7.8 seconds left to tie the game.

``I don't think this team has ever given up during a game,'' said Potts, who scored 29 points after scoring 32 and 31 points in Kentucky's two previous games. Entering the WNIT, the senior guard's career high was 30 points.

After a West Virginia turnover, Kentucky freshman Samantha Mahoney missed a well-guarded 3-pointer at the buzzer.

The teams traded the lead in the first overtime. West Virginia went just 4-of-8 from the line, and Potts made two free throws with 15.9 seconds left to tie the game at 66. Yolanda Paige missed at the buzzer for West Virginia.

Kentucky didn't score for the first 3 minutes of the second overtime. Bulger scored with 1:53 left to give West Virginia a 72-66 lead, and the Mountaineers shot 6-for-8 from the line to help seal the win.

``We had to exert a lot of energy in the game,'' Kentucky coach Mickie DeMoss said. In the second overtime, ``it may have caught up with us.''

Freshman center Sarah Elliott finished with 14 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots for the Wildcats, who matched their season high with 23 turnovers and completed their longest postseason run.

Kentucky hit just 3 of 17 shots from beyond the arc, including 2-of-10 by Potts.

Paige had 12 assists for West Virginia, giving her 892 in her career and tying the senior for eighth on the NCAA Division I career list.

March 28, 2005

Rainier's Condition Stabilizes; Monaco Citizens Pray

MONACO - The health of Europe's longest-reigning monarch, Prince Rainier of Monaco, stabilized Sunday while citizens prayed for him at an Easter mass in the tiny Mediterranean principality.

However, doctors warned that the condition of the 81-year-old Rainier, widower of Hollywood film star Grace Kelly, was "still worrying" and said they remained very cautious about his prospects of survival.

Rainier is in intensive care in a Monaco hospital where he was taken suffering from a lung infection, complicated by cardiac and kidney problems.

A health bulletin issued by his palace Sunday said the prince was conscious though under sedation, while the deterioration of his vital functions had been halted.

"The state of health of his Most Serene Highness Prince Rainier III still remains worrying," said the bulletin, signed by the prince's three doctors.

"His cardiac, lung and kidney functions that were continuing to deteriorate have stabilized," it added. "The sovereign is conscious but under sedation, which allows him to tolerate absolutely indispensable respiratory assistance."

Rainer has been breathing through an artificial respirator at Monaco's Cardiothoracic Center since Wednesday.

Pope John Paul, himself battling fragile health, sent a message of support at the weekend.


While Rainier's family attended a private mass in the palace chapel Sunday, the archbishop of Monaco urged the faithful to pray for both the prince and Pope at a cathedral mass.

"The health of our sovereign, his Most Serene Highness Prince Rainier, worries us deeply, the health of our Pope, Jean Paul II, as well," Archbishop Bernard Barsi said in the cathedral draped with the colors of Monaco and the Vatican.

"I invite all the faithful to pray for these two exceptional men."

Rainier's eldest daughter Princess Caroline returned from Paris last week and heir-apparent Prince Albert, 47, left an Italian ski resort to be by their father's bedside in the Mediterranean enclave his family has ruled for 700 years.

Their sister Stephanie and Rainier's grandchildren have all been to see the prince.

Monaco citizens were keeping an anxious eye on the flag flying at full mast from the prince's palace, built on the coastal rock Rainier's ancestor Francois Grimaldi seized from the Genoese in 1297.

Europe's last constitutional autocrat, Rainier succeeded his grandfather in 1949. He led Monaco, a 1 square mile territory tucked between Nice and the Italian border, into an age of skyscrapers, international banking and business.

Born on May 31, 1923, the prince has cut a lonely figure in recent years. Princess Grace, who Rainier married in 1956, died in 1982.
UConn's reign is over in women's hoops

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Nobody can win championships indefinitely. Not even Connecticut.

If that wasn't clear to the Huskies before, it certainly is now. Their title run is over, ended by a tough, talented Stanford team that exposed the offensive weaknesses that haunted UConn during this up-and-down season and capitalized on them.

With freshman sensation Candice Wiggins leading the way, Stanford beat Connecticut 76-59 in the semifinals of the Kansas City Regional on Sunday night, sending the Huskies to their earliest NCAA tournament exit in six years.

``It's not a bad thing to be reminded that the NCAA championship trophy doesn't have Connecticut engraved on it at the beginning of the season,'' UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. ``It's not a bad thing to be reminded of that.''

Connecticut played in an unprecedented five straight Final Fours, winning the last three national championships and four of the last five. No player on the Connecticut roster had ever lost an NCAA tournament game before Sunday. It seemed that all a player had to do was sign with Connecticut and she was guaranteed a trip to the Final Four every year.

But Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer kept reminding her players that they weren't facing any of UConn's championship teams. They were playing this season's team, one that seven times during the regular season had proven to be beatable.

``They've struggled this year,'' VanDerveer said. ``It's hard to ask a team to be national champions. What they did was awesome. Three national championships is incredible. But I didn't feel like we were playing against a ghost team.

``We had a sign on the door, `Mystique, what number is she?' It was like, this is not a real thing. I think our team just bought in 100 percent to doing the things we had to do.''

So, give it up for the Cardinal (32-2), ranked No. 1 nationally but only a No. 2 seed in this regional. They'll play top-seeded Michigan State (31-3) in the regional final Tuesday night, with the winner booking a trip to Indianapolis for the Final Four.

Michigan State, which before this year had never been past the second round of the NCAAs, beat fifth-seeded Vanderbilt 76-64 on Sunday night. Stanford is seeking its seventh Final Four trip, but first since 1997.

``For our whole team, this has been a really special year for us,'' Stanford's Susan King Borchardt said. ``We wanted to come out and say, `Hey, we can play.'''

You know what? They can.

The Cardinal put up 49 points in the second half against a team that had been giving up only 50.6 a game. Wiggins, a second-team All-American and the Pac-10 player of the year, finished with 21 points to lead all scorers after a miserable first half -- six points, five turnovers, two rebounds.

Borchardt went 4-for-5 from 3-point range in scoring 16 points. Kelley Suminski had 12 points, six assists and three steals.

``The first half was not really like us,'' Wiggins said. ``In the second half, we had fun and played together. It was great. We just said, `Let's have fun.'''

Connecticut (25-8) built a 33-27 halftime lead by frustrating Stanford with some sticky, physical defense. But the Huskies missed their first seven shots of the second half, Stanford scored six quick points and it was a game again.

``I think the game turned right then and there,'' Auriemma said. ``To their credit, they did what they do well and did it very, very well. The things we struggled with most of the season came back to haunt us.''

Shooting is one of those things that Stanford does well. Borchardt, Wiggins and Sebnem Kimyacioglu each made a 3-pointer in a 16-5 run that gave Stanford a 54-46 lead.

Ashley Battle's 3-pointer drew UConn to 58-53, but Borchardt and Wiggins answered with back-to-back 3s to make it 64-53 with 3 1/2 minutes left. The Huskies' fate was becoming apparent: They would fall short of the Final Four for the first time since losing to Iowa State in the 1999 regional semifinals.

``Just when we started to make a run or just when we started to hit a basket and need a big stop, they'd come down and hit a 3,'' Battle said.

Barbara Turner led Connecticut with 17 points, but no one else reached double figures for the Huskies, who shot 27 percent in the second half and 32.4 percent for the game.

Michigan State 76, Vanderbilt 64

Michigan State advanced with its best performance of the tournament. Kelli Roehrig led the Spartans with 18 points and Kristin Haynie had the second triple-double in the program's 32-year history -- 13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

``I didn't realize it until after I looked back to see how I did,'' Haynie said. ``It all comes from the rest of the team. We all got a triple-double tonight.''

Haynie and her teammates finished off their victory about an hour after the Michigan State men beat Kentucky in two overtimes to reach the Final Four. The women still have to beat Stanford to complete their end of the deal, but thanks to a strong second half, they're a lot closer than any previous Michigan State team.

The Spartans erased Vanderbilt's 37-30 halftime lead with an 18-3 run at the start of the second half and were in control the rest of the way. They shot 62 percent in the second half and finished with a 37-22 rebounding advantage.

The turnaround came after the players got on each other at halftime.

``At this time of year, it's all about the players,'' Michigan State coach Joanne P. McCallie said. ``Coaching is definitely overrated.''

Carla Thomas led Vanderbilt (24-8) with 22 points, but had only six in the second half. Lindsay Bowen scored 14 for Michigan State and Rene Haynes had 12.

Seniors go out with first loss of their career

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Connecticut senior center Jessica Moore took a seat on the bench with 20 seconds left, and then it hit her.

``I thought, this isn't only the last game, this is my last game as a player,'' Moore said Sunday night.

Stanford put an end to UConn's remarkable three-year title reign with a 76-59 win in the Kansas City Regional semifinal and all Moore and her fellow seniors could do was watch. They were going home early for the first time in their careers.

``We felt horrible about this, but Coach (Geno Auriemma) reminded us that we've won three national championships and gone to so many Final Fours, that so many other teams don't get a chance to do this,'' Moore said.

But it still hurt.

The players sat around the quiet UConn locker room, their eyes red from crying.

``They're pretty broken up,'' Auriemma said. ``Some of them have never been in this situation before.''

Senior Ashley Battle and Moore were red-shirted their freshman year and as fifth-year seniors had been to the last five Final Fours. Battle hit a 3-pointer with 5.6 seconds left into the first half to give UConn a 33-27 lead and momentum at the break. But it all unraveled quickly in the second half.

Battle's season ended while playing in her school-record 149th game.

``It was pretty amazing. One-hundred-forty-nine games, five Final Fours, three national championships,'' Battle said. ``It was pretty amazing.''

Duke ignores early LSU tourney wins to study top seed

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- Duke is ignoring the results of LSU's first three NCAA tournament games.

Instead, Blue Devils coach Gail Goestenkors and her staff have watched tapes from The Lady Tigers' Southeastern Conference contests to get a more realistic scouting report.

There's not much to learn from LSU's tourney wins over Stetson, Arizona and Liberty. After all, the Lady Tigers (32-2) took advantage of being the overall No. 1 seed, easily routing each overmatched team by 30 points or more.

But the games are bound to get tougher, starting Monday night against second-seeded Duke (31-4) in the Chattanooga Regional final with a trip to the Final Four on the line.

``We watched the NCAA games, but I haven't paid as much attention to those games as I have to the SEC games because the competition was a little bit better,'' Goestenkors said Sunday. ``We've gotten much more out of the SEC games than the NCAA games.''

By crushing opponents early on, LSU has been able to give plenty of rest to All-American Seimone Augustus, senior point guard Temeka Johnson and the other starters.

Duke should provide a bigger challenge for LSU with its intense defense and rebounding, height inside and outside and its own All-American, Monique Currie.

``They have their strengths. If there are weaknesses we have not witnessed it in person or on film,'' LSU coach Pokey Chatman said. ``They do a good job of playing to their strengths and to me that's always a sign of a great basketball team.''

The Lady Tigers aren't concerned with the large winning margins and believe games against ranked opponents earlier in the season have helped prepare them for Duke.

LSU beat Baylor, Maryland, Minnesota, Georgia, Vanderbilt and Tennessee while losing its only regular-season game at Rutgers.

``We were able to go up against teams that simulate Duke in terms of how they attack with their size, with quickness, with shooters, with drivers, standout players, from top to bottom. That was the biggest preparation for us,'' Chatman said.

But the Lady Tigers haven't been tested in a close game since losing to Tennessee 67-65 in the championship of the SEC tournament.

Meanwhile, Duke followed an easy win over Canisius in the first round with two tough games against Boston College and Georgia.

``They've had the big leads so they have a lot of confidence right now,'' Goestenkors said. ``The positive for us is that we have had to fight our way through.''

The teams have faced each other only twice before. LSU beat Duke in a regional semifinal in 2000, and the Blue Devils then beat LSU the following November.

The Lady Tigers are trying to follow up their first appearance in the Final Four a year ago with another.

Duke went to the Final Four in 1999, 2002 and 2003. The Blue Devils lost to Minnesota in last year's regional final as a No. 1 seed.

Many believe this is LSU's best chance at winning a national championship with Augustus and Johnson leading the way. But the Lady Tigers dismiss suggestions there is pressure for the top seed to win.

``There is pressure on every team,'' Chatman said.

The Blue Devils thought they had the right formula last year with senior Alana Beard, and Goestenkors enjoys not having to deal with that pressure this season.

``I understand that LSU is probably feeling some of that pressure whether they say it or not,'' she said. ``It's there. You can't help it.''

(2) Duke (31-4) vs. (1) LSU (32-2)
Game Info: 9:00 pm EST Mon Mar 28, 2005
Chattanooga Region - McKenzie Arena (Chattanooga, TN)

LSU has been simply dominant in the NCAA tournament to this point.
The top-seeded Lady Tigers should face their biggest test of the Chattanooga Regional when they take on No. 2 Duke for a spot in the Final Four.

LSU has won its first three games by an average of 36.3 points, showcasing its superior depth and talent. The latest rout for the Lady Tigers, seeking a second straight trip to the Final Four, was a 90-42 win over Liberty on Saturday.

LSU coach Pokey Chatman believes her team is peaking at the right time.

``This was our most complete game because of what we brought from the previous games,'' Chatman said.

The Lady Tigers were thrilled that All-American guard Seimone Augustus bounced back with a strong effort Saturday. She scored 22 points on 10-of-12 shooting after going 10-of-29 combined in the first two rounds.

LSU has played some outstanding defense, holding its first three opponents to just under 28 percent from the field. The Lady Tigers have forced an average of 20.3 turnovers.

``We're competing,'' LSU point guard Temeka Johnson said. ``That's not to take away from our opponents. We're doing everything well, and it shows the caliber of our team.''

Johnson is averaging 13.7 points and 10.3 assists in the last three games.

In addition to Augustus and Johnson, the Lady Tigers also boast freshman reserve Sylvia Fowles, the SEC sixth woman of the year. The 6-foot-5 Fowles is the team's second-leading scorer at 11.8 points per game.

``LSU is a phenomenal team,'' Duke forward Mistie Williams said. ``We will have to take it in stride. We are not going to be tired until all is said and done. We will give 110 percent and leave it all out on the floor. If our legs fall off, we will play until we are done.''

Duke is hoping to present more of a challenge. The Blue Devils have reached the regional final for the sixth time in eight years and are led by Monique Currie.

The All-American powered Duke to a 63-57 win over Georgia on Saturday. The junior, who will graduate in the spring and is considering a jump to the WNBA, had 16 points and 12 rebounds for her eighth double-double of the season.

``Our goal was to want it more than them,'' Currie said. ``We play better when we play with emotion.''

The Blue Devils held a 45-32 edge on the glass, including 14 offensive rebounds that led to 16 second-chance points. Williams grabbed 13 boards, matching the second-highest total in the NCAA tournament in school history.

Duke coach Gail Goestenkors feels that her team can't expect to dominate the glass the same way against LSU.

``We will have to make all of the shots inside that we missed today,'' Goestenkors said. ``I thought we missed some bunnies today. We cannot do that against LSU. They have so many weapons.''

LSU and Duke have met twice, splitting the matchups in 2000 and 2001.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Duke - F Williams (11.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg), Wynter Whitley (5.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg), C Alison Bales (7.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 3.8 bpg), G Wanisha Smith (11.2 ppg, 4.4 apg), G Currie (17.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg). LSU - F Wendlyn Jones (4.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg), F Tillie Willis (3.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg), G Johnson (10.3 ppg, 7.8 apg), G Scholanda Hoston (9.1 ppg, 2.2 spg), G Augustus (19.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg).

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Duke - At-large berth, ACC; beat No. 15 Canisius 80-48, first round; beat No. 7 Boston College 70-65, second round; beat No. 6 Georgia 63-57. regional semifinals. LSU - At-large berth, SEC; beat No. 16 Stetson 70-36, first round; beat No. 9 Arizona 76-43, second round; beat No. 13 Liberty 90-48, regional semifinals.

ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORD: Duke - 30-11, 12 years. LSU - 23-14, 15 years.

Lady Bears in uncharted territory against UNC

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Now it's the North Carolina women's turn.

Just like Connecticut a year ago, the Tar Heels could win both of college basketball's biggest prizes. The men made it to the Final Four by beating Wisconsin on Sunday. The North Carolina women can do the same with a victory over Baylor in the Tempe Regional final Monday night.

The matchup of the No. 1-seeded Tar Heals and No. 2-seeded Lady Bears should be a showcase of how athletically gifted and skilled the young women who play basketball have become.

``You're going to see tremendous athletes. You're going to see unbelievable speed and quickness,'' Baylor coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson said. ``You're going to see unbelievable leaping ability. You're going to see girls that grew up playing the game with guys.''

Both teams are 30-3 and riding long winning streaks -- North Carolina 16 games and Baylor a school-record 17. Both teams love to run, both play tough defense, both are strong inside.

``I think it shows where the game is now, the skill level, the abilities of the players, the style of play, the coaching, the ability of players to shoot the basketball,'' North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said. ``The game's come a long way.''

Hatchell is 684-265 in 19 seasons at North Carolina, but is in a regional final for only the third time. Her 1998 team lost to eventual national champion Tennessee, her 1994 team, with Marion Jones at point guard, won the national title.

Baylor has never made it this far in the tournament, but in just five years, Mulkey-Robertson has built a strong program that reflects her own intensely competitive personality.

As a player, she helped Louisiana Tech win two national titles, and was part of the U.S. Olympic gold medal team in 1984.

She was an assistant at Louisiana Tech for 15 years, helping the school win three more national championships and assuming she would take over when longtime coach Leon Barmore retired. She was offered the job, but the money was far less than she could have gotten had she accepted several big-time coaching positions she turned down over the years. Louisiana Tech also didn't give her the five-year deal she wanted.

So she left on sour terms to take over the downtrodden Baylor program.

``I keep in contact with a lot of friends at Louisiana Tech,'' Mulkey-Robertson said. ``I've not talked to Coach Barmore since I left there. He's left two messages on my cell phone after a basketball game.''

Baylor has little athletic heritage. The track program of coach Clyde Hart has produced Olympic gold medalists Michael Johnson and Jeremy Wariner. But the school probably is best remembered for a men's basketball player accused of murdering a teammate in 2003.

So an NCAA women's basketball championship would be a very big deal.

``As a university and a community in Waco, we've got so many people behind us,'' guard Chameka Scott said. ``They just love to see us bring some goodness to Baylor. To become a powerhouse, and just what we've come from and what we've become, is a lot of fun to watch.''

Mulkey-Robertson's job got a lot easier when she found Sophia Young, who came to the United States from the West Indies as an exchange student age 15. Through some connections, she heard about Young, went to see her play a high school game at Shreveport and could see a raw talent with tremendous potential.

Young, a 6-foot-1 junior, scored 26 points in Baylor's rugged 64-57 victory over Minnesota on Saturday night.

``She's a great player and a great athlete,'' Hatchell said. ``When I saw her jump last night, I was wondering if she was ever going to come back down. She can just jump over the rest of the defense and shoot her shot. There is no way to stop that. She jumps higher than anyone I've seen this year.''

Young's mother came from the West Indies and watched her play for the first time on Saturday night.

``She thought I was pretty good,'' Young said.

The Tar Heels had to overcome a hostile crowd to beat Arizona State on its home floor 79-72 on Saturday night. On Sunday, the North Carolina women watched in their locker room and rooted the men's team on to victory. Three of the women date players on the men's team.

The men and women play the same North Carolina, up-tempo style.

``We're just a run-and-gun team,'' said the Tar Heels' 5-foot-6, ever-energized playmaker Ivory Latta, who scored 20 on Saturday. ``Everybody can run.''

West Indies supplies Lady Bears with scoring star

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Baylor's Sophia Young played basketball in front of her mother for the first time over the weekend.

``She thought I was pretty good,'' Young said.

So has anyone else who has seen the 6-foot-1 junior's speed, agility and incredible leaping ability.

Young will lead the second-seeded Lady Bears into the biggest game in their program's history on Monday night, an NCAA tournament showdown with No. 1 seed North Carolina in the semifinals of the Tempe Regional.

Both teams are 30-3 and on long winning streaks -- North Carolina has won 16 straight, while Baylor has a school-record 17 consecutive victories. Both teams love to run, play tough defense and are strong inside.

Young averaged 18 points per game this season, and has averaged 24 in her three NCAA tournament games. She scored 26, four shy of her career high when Baylor beat Minnesota 64-57 on Monday night to advance to the regional final for the first time in school history.

``She's a great player and a great athlete,'' Tar Heels coach Sylvia Hatchell said. ``When I saw her jump last night, I was wondering if she was ever going to come back down. She can just jump over the rest of the defense and shoot her shot. There is no way to stop that. She jumps higher than anyone I've seen this year.''

Young came to Shreveport, La., from the West Indies at age 15 as an exchange student. Through connections, Baylor coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson heard about this teen talent who had barely played the game but showed so much raw talent. Just before Young's senior high school season, Mulkey-Robertson watched her work out and after five minutes, knew this was a special player.

``I said `We need to get her on campus immediately and we need to sign her before anybody else finds out about her,''' Mulkey-Robertson said.

Since then, Young has added basketball skills to her natural abilities. Holding her in check will be a major chore for the Tar Heels.

``I'm just going to play regular,'' Young said. ``I don't think I'm going to change anything. I'm just going to be playing Baylor basketball.''

North Carolina will counter with an imposing front line and a tough inside presence in 6-foot-2 freshman Erlana Larkins, who had 18 points and 14 rebounds, including seven offensive boards, in the Tar Heels' 79-72 regional semifinal victory over Arizona State on ASU's home court.

Mulkey-Robertson compared Larkins' play to that of former NBA rebounding star Dennis Rodman.

``Larkins doesn't shoot much from outside the paint, but she doesn't have to,'' the Baylor coach said. ``She positions herself very well and knows where shots are going to come off that rim. That's the first thing I noticed. It wasn't that she just went and bullied her way and got a rebound. She knows where to be.''

Five days shy of her 19th birthday, Larkins seems unaffected by NCAA tournament pressure.

``This is my first time here. I am shocked,'' she confessed. ``But I am excited, although I might not show it. My teammates have been helping me along the way since the day I stepped on UNC's campus.''

Hatchell is 684-265 in 19 seasons at North Carolina, but is in a regional final for only the third time. Her 1998 team lost to eventual national champion Tennessee; her 1994 team, with Marion Jones at point guard, won the national title.

Baylor has never made it this far in the tournament, but in just five years, Mulkey-Robertson has built a strong program that reflects her own intensely competitive personality.

As a player, she helped Louisiana Tech win two national titles, and was part of the U.S. Olympic gold medal team in 1984. She also helped Tech win three more NCAA championships in 15 years as an assistant.

The North Carolina women will be trying to join the Tar Heels men's team, which advanced to the Final Four with a victory over Wisconsin on Sunday.

The men and women play the same North Carolina, up-tempo style.

``We're just a run-and-gun team,'' said the Tar Heels' 5-foot-6, ever-energized playmaker Ivory Latta, who scored 20 on Saturday. ``Everybody can run.''

(2) Baylor (30-3) vs. (1) North Carolina (30-3)
Game Info: 7:00 pm EST Mon Mar 28, 2005
Tempe Region - Wells-Fargo Arena (Tempe, AZ)

North Carolina is hoping for a return trip to the Final Four after a lengthy absence. Baylor is seeking its first berth in women's basketball showcase event.
The top-seeded Tar Heels can return to the Final Four for the first time since 1994 when they meet the No. 2 seed Lady Bears in the Tempe Regional final.

North Carolina has been plagued by early exits from the NCAA tournament in recent years, failing to reach the regional semifinals in each of the last three seasons. After getting past that hurdle this year, the Tar Heels moved into their first regional final since 1998 with a 79-72 win over Arizona State on Saturday

Led by star point guard Ivory Latta, North Carolina shook off the pro-Sun Devils crowd and survived a series of rallies. Latta scored 20 points and freshman Erlana Larkins added 18 and 14 rebounds as the Tar Heels won their 16th straight.

``I think it was tougher than we thought it would be,'' said Larkins. ``They had a great environment. They were the home team. They came out and played really hard.''

Latta battled through a wrist injury to make 6-of-14 shots. She is averaging 23.5 points in the last six games for the Tar Heels.

``I just tried not to think about it because my teammates were telling me, 'Ivory, we need you, suck it up, you'll be all right,''' she said. ``That's the only thing I need to hear.''

Larkins, who notched her seventh double-double, matched a season high in rebounds. She will need to come through Monday against a Baylor frontcourt that features center Steffanie Blackmon and forward Sophia Young, who averages a team-high 18 points per game.

``I think it's going to be a great game,'' Larkins said. ``They're great with the fast breaks and they have two really great post players in Blackmon and Young, so I think it should be a great matchup.''

Baylor has advanced farther than any team in school history after a 64-57 win over Minnesota on Saturday. The Lady Bears won their 17th straight game thanks to a brilliant performance by Young.

Playing in front of her mother for the first time, Young had 26 points and seven rebounds to lead the way. The junior made 12 of her final 18 shots.

``My emotions are just running wild,'' Young said. ``I'm happy my mom could come and see me play. It was such a great atmosphere. And it's a tremendous opportunity to take my team to the Elite Eight.''

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson used the defense of Abiola Wabara to help counter Minnesota star forward Janel McCarville, who made just 6-of-16 shots. Wabara and McCarville were whistled for a double-technical in the final minute and had to be separated.

``When it's physical and they let you play like that, things like that happen at the end of a game that are unfortunate,'' Mulkey-Robertson said.

The physical play will be a challenge for Larkins, who has three double-doubles in her last six games.

``When we get the ball inside to Erlana, she usually produces well,'' North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said.

Baylor is hoping that reserve forward Emily Niemann comes out of her shooting slump. Niemann, who is shooting nearly 47 percent on 3-pointers this season, is 4-of-20 from the arc over the last six games.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Baylor - F Young (18.0 ppg and 9.2 rpg), F Wabara (5.4 ppg and 3.5 rpg), C Blackmon (15.5 ppg and 8.2 rpg), G Chelsea Whitaker (4.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg and 5.3 apg), G Chameka Scott (7.5 ppg and 4.1 rpg). North Carolina - F Camille Little (11.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg), F Nikita Bell (10.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg), C Larkins (14.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg), G Latta (17.3 ppg, 4.4 apg), G La'Tangela Atkinson (8.4 ppg, 7.4 rpg).

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Baylor - Automatic bid, Big 12 tournament champion; beat No. 15 Illinois State 91-70, first round; beat No. 10 Oregon 69-46, second round; beat No. 3 Minnesota 64-57, regional semifinals. North Carolina - Automatic bid, Atlantic Coast Conference tournament champion; beat No. 16 Coppin State 97-62, first round; beat No. 9 George Washington 71-47, second round; beat No. 5 Arizona State 79-72, regional semifinals.

ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORD: Baylor - 6-3, 4 years. North Carolina - 27-15, 17 years.
Stanford returns from depths

Kansas City -- In the quiet arena, you could hear the thwack in the cheap seats. The sound of hand smacking leather.

It was the sound of Stanford's No. 1 national rating being devalued, downgraded and disrespected.

It was Stanford forward T'Nae Thiel's jump shot being rudely fly-swatted by Connecticut forward Charde Houston, who retrieved her own block and flew to the other end for a layup.

A minute later, Stanford was reeling toward the locker room, down 33-27 at the half. They were shooting terribly, getting clogged badly by the UConn press, getting beat on the boards. Stanford freshman superstar Candice Wiggins lit up the halftime stat sheet with five turnovers.

"I told Candice (after the game) it was a good thing I didn't have my reading glasses on at halftime," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said.

It was a low. Not just for Stanford's season, but in VanDerveer's two decades as Stanford coach. Sure, UConn won the last three national championships, but it had done it with departed superstar Diana Taurasi.

It was looking like a triumphant moment for UConn's Geno Auriemma, the women's collegiate coach of the past decade.

It was a low for the team magic that VanDerveer had been talking about all season, a dream group of ballplayers who had the talent, tenacity and togetherness in a package as well-wrapped as any VanDerveer has coached, that had powered to a 22-game win streak.

It was a low for the Pac-10 and West Coast basketball.

Then, for those of us wondering what that No. 1 national ranking signified, the Cardinal showed us in the second half. Forty-nine points, and a 76-59 win over a team that had given up more than 70 points only twice all season.

Wiggins, the magical freshman, bounced back with 15 second-half points, but it wasn't a one-person comeback. Center Brooke Smith got busy inside, Susan King Borchardt hit two 3-point bombs that gave Stanford leads, and it all clicked.

"I think we decided (at halftime) we weren't ready to be done," said Borchardt, who spent most of the night guarding UConn star Ann Strother, who is seven inches taller than Borchardt and wound up with four points.

"A lot of what (Borchardt) does for us is on the top half of the stat sheet (the opponents' totals)," VanDerveer said.

It was a huge win for Stanford, even though the Cardinal downplayed the aura of the three-time defending champs. Someone even posted a sign in the Stanford locker room -- "Mystique? What number is she?"

But talk is cheap. Stanford had a hole to dig itself out of. The Cardinal did it by going to the trenches, pounding the ball into Smith, who fired up hooks, dished to teammates and generally loosened up the UConn defense, which has carried the Huskies all season (they were ranked second in the nation in points allowed, 50.6 per game).

Halftime adjustments? Attitude. And that post thing.

"I really thought our team did the things we asked in the first half, except we have to go inside to make our triangle offense work," VanDerveer said. "We got it into Brooke the first time and I was mad she missed, but (associate coach) Amy (Tucker) said, 'She took it in strong.' "

In the end, on the scoreboard, it looked like another routine Stanford win, a rout over a good team but an underdog that simply isn't as good as Stanford.

It didn't feel that way at halftime, though. If UConn's lineup lacks mystique with Taurasi gone, there's always Auriemma, the little guy with the huge personality and reputation. On the surface, a mismatch.

On one bench, or in front of it, you have the swaggering, yelling, yapping, little genius who made UConn a dynasty by imprinting the teams with his attitude.

On the other, there's VanDerveer, who seldom leaves her seat and looks like a professor studying the game as research to write a paper. If you didn't know her record and her reputation, you'd worry that she was being overwhelmed by little Geno's big persona.

Could it be that the UConn coach had somehow summoned up his greatest coaching job, willing his overmatched team to a victory over No. 1 Stanford and his archrival VanDerveer?

He said before the game that he was worried about how his team would respond if Stanford's offense got untracked, and you weren't sure if he was working the angles, or showing genuine concern.

"How will we handle it if they score quickly and often?" he asked. "I don't know. I don't know."

He found out. They would handle it the way the last 22 teams have handled it. As gracious, well-defeated losers.
No D To Break The Fall

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - They had never lost an NCAA Tournament game.

None of them.

Not even the seniors.

The UConn women's basketball team had won 20 NCAA games in a row.

They had won 30 of 31, the only blemish that Final Four night in 2001 across the state of Missouri in St. Louis. A freshman named Diana Taurasi shot 1-for-15, including 0-for-11 on three-pointers, and dreams of successive national titles were flushed away in the second half by Notre Dame.

Taurasi and UConn would go on to win three national titles.

It would have taken the best coaching job of Geno Auriemma's magnificent career to have taken his team past Stanford, Michigan State and probably Tennessee and LSU.

The Huskies didn't get past the first hurdle Sunday night in one of the toughest Sweet 16 matchups in women's college history.

They didn't get past the first hurdle because their offense died in the second half.

They didn't get past the first hurdle because a team that often seemed to master team defense, never mastered the art of ball movement and ball distribution from its young guards.

They didn't get past the first hurdle because Ann Strother couldn't shake Susan King Borchardt. The Huskies' leading scorer, who also was bothered by a neck problem, scored four points.

They didn't get past the first hurdle because their thrilling freshman Charde Houston disappeared with the rest of the team.

"I said going in that this was the hardest type of team for us to play because offensively Stanford has too many things they can do well," Auriemma said. "We came out in the second half, missed four layups, lost our edge. The game turned right then and there.

"The things that we've struggled for most of the season came back to haunt us. When we're good, we're really, really good like we were the first 20 minutes. When we're bad, we're really, really bad like we were in the last 20 minutes. You are who you are."

And this is who the Huskies were since 2000:

Won it all.

Lost in Final Four.

Won it all.

Won it all.

Won it all.

When push came to shove during the previous three championship runs, Auriemma used to say, "Well, we have Diana Taurasi and you don't."

Well, he didn't have Taurasi this year.

And, man, did it ever show in the final 20 minutes of this 17-point loss to Stanford at Municipal Auditorium.

"Making shots was a problem all year long and our defense bailed us out," Auriemma said. "Pretty much this is the best defensive team we've had in a long, long time. But your defense can only bail you out for so long. I said going in this was one game where our offense was going to have to win it. Our offense let us down.

"Stanford's guards are really good. Our guards really struggled in the second half getting the ball where we wanted it to get to."

Folks around the nation are tired of UConn winning every year.

Well, now they can rejoice.

No other current women's college player, other than those who earned them in Storrs, has a championship ring.


And now somebody else will.

"We have four seniors in there who finished their careers with three national championships," Auriemma said. "They got three times as much as most people get. The guys coming back have to start over."

And they'll have to start over thinking about how they took a six-point halftime lead. How they used 10 players, seemed to have more speed and more legs.

It turned out the opposite. UConn went down meekly.

Big Brooke Smith was bodied out in the first half. As a result, she took shots too far from the basket. Freshman Candice Wiggins, the Pac-10 player of the year, was out of control in the first half. UConn did a good job running at her, trapping her and she had five turnovers and two field goals.

The Cardinal got much better spacing offensively in the second half. The Cardinal didn't back down. They scored 49 points in the second half and Wiggins would end up with 21. The Huskies bent and then broke. Tara VanDerveer urged her post players to be more physical in the second half and they were. But UConn bent and then broke because of what happened on the other end of the court.

"The first 20 minutes we were able to dictate the way the game was going to be played, because we made enough shots that allowed us to get into different defenses and keep them off balance," Auriemma said. "They didn't know where our traps were coming from and they had a difficult time getting into any kind of offensive rhythm.

"In the second half, we had an incredibly difficult time scoring points. And because of that, we lost a little bit of our edge defensively. We got deflated. It snowballed."

Stanford simply packed it in and dared UConn to hoist threes in the final minutes.

It grew clear as the season wore on that UConn was going to need more offensive punch. Barbara Turner had 17 points. She can be a go-to player. Strother can make the shot if it's there. It's too much to expect her to take over games.

So just as they fell apart in St. Louis, the Huskies will need to look in the future to somebody in a freshman's clothes.

Charde Houston is their greatest talent. She is going to have to learn to be their best player. In the first half, she had six points, six rebounds, four turnovers, three blocks and three steals in 11 minutes.

She had blocked a shot and raced the length of the court to make a layup. She slammed down another Smith shot. She also inexplicably hoisted her first three of the season. She missed. She threw up another wild jumper. With 54 seconds left before halftime, Auriemma cursed her off the court.

In the second half, the best talent disappeared with the rest of the Huskies.

Make no mistake.

Charde is a thrill a minute.

No, make that a thrill every 30 seconds.

That's the length of the shot clock and that's time enough for Charde to do something wildly entertaining.

That can be good. And that can be awful.

"Charde is quite an enigma," Auriemma said. "She makes plays that make you shake your head and say, `How did she do that?' Then she makes plays that make you shake your head and say `Why did she do that?'"

"I think she wasn't prepared mentally or physically to play 40 minutes in a game like this. She was caught between not doing enough and trying to do too much."

A freshman named Taurasi was awful that night in St. Louis.

Houston should know that. She should also know that she has three more grabs at the ring.
(2) Stanford 76, (3) Connecticut 59

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma felt his team had to be at the top of its game to beat Stanford. The Huskies weren't even close.

And so women's basketball will have a new champion this year -- finally. Connecticut's remarkable run is over.

Stanford made all the right plays down the stretch and got 21 points from freshman sensation Candice Wiggins to beat Connecticut 76-59 on Sunday night in the semifinals of the Kansas City Regional.

After winning the last three national championships and four of the last five, Connecticut (25-8) won't even make it back to the Final Four, its 20-game winning streak in NCAA tournament play is history.

``It was a tough way to go out, but we lost to a really good team,'' Auriemma said. ``I'm not sure we were good enough to beat them unless we played the perfect game.''

It was the Huskies' earliest exit since they lost to Iowa State in the regional finals in 1999. Since then they had gone 30-1 in the tournament until running into a Stanford team that showed the same grit that has carried UConn to so many victories through the years.

Stanford (32-2), ranked No. 1 but only the No. 2 seed in the regional, moves on with a 23-game winning streak and is just a victory from its first Final Four trip since 1997. The Cardinal will play top-seeded Michigan State, a 76-64 winner over Vanderbilt, in the regional final Tuesday night.

``We were asked by a lot of people before the game if we were scared,'' Stanford's Kelley Suminski said. ``We came in thinking we're every bit as good as they are and every year is a different year.''

As it turned out, the Cardinal had every right to think that way after rocking the game's most dominant program with a 49-points second half. It wasn't always pretty, what with all the jostling and shoving underneath the basket and, in the first half especially, some near woeful shooting.

But the Cardinal will take it. They erased a six-point halftime deficit by starting the second half with a 6-0 run, then went ahead to stay with a 16-5 burst midway through the half.

``This is exactly what we wanted,'' Wiggins said. ``We didn't want to say anything. We wanted to show the rest of the country what kind of team we are. We did that.''

Wiggins, Susan King Borchardt and Sebnem Kimyacioglu each made a 3-pointer during the critical second-half stretch, Wiggins added a 15-foot jumper and T'Nae Thiel converted a three-point play, making it 54-46 with 7:18 to play.

There was still enough time for Connecticut to make one more run, but it never happened. The Huskies got it down to 58-53 on Ashley Battle's 3 with 4:42 remaining, only to have Stanford deliver the fatal blows.

First it was a 3-pointer by Borchardt, then a 3 by Wiggins, who came on strong after a terrible first half. That made it 64-53 with 3 1/2 minutes to play and the end was near for the Huskies. They couldn't come up with any miracle plays on the floor and Auriemma couldn't conjure up any more sideline magic.

``This game was a reflection of our season,'' Auriemma said. ``When we were good, we were really, really good, like we were the first 20 minutes. When we were bad, we were really, really bad, like we were for the second 20 minutes.''

With 1:38 to play, the lead had grown to 15 and the Huskies knew it was over.

As the final seconds ticked away, the Connecticut players sat glumly on the bench and Auriemma stood with his hands on his hips, a look of resignation on his face. He started toward the Stanford bench to shake hands with coach Tara VanDerveer even before the final buzzer sounded.

Wiggins, a second-team All-American and the Pac-10 player of the year, hardly looked the part while scoring only six points and committing five turnovers in the first half. But she shook it off and proved her mettle in the final 20 minutes, hitting a couple of 3-pointers and finishing 11-for-12 at the free throw line.

Borchardt went 4-for-5 from 3-point range -- and 6-for-7 overall -- to finish with 16 points. Suminski added 12 for the Cardinal, who shot 57.7 percent in the second half.

Connecticut sputtered on offense from the beginning and really never got into any kind of flow at that end of the floor. The Huskies were just 9-for-33 in the second half, shot 32.4 percent for the game and committed 16 turnovers.

Barbara Turner, with 17 points, was the only Connecticut player in double figures. Battle and Jessica Moore each scored eight for the Huskies and the usually reliable Ann Strother had only four on 2-for-8 shooting.

``We've won three national titles,'' Moore said. ``We have nothing to be ashamed of. We can walk out of here with our heads high.''

The Connecticut mystique has hung over the women's game for years. Stanford simply ignored it.

``This is a different team,'' VanDerveer said of UConn. ``I thought we had a game plan. We had a sign on the door, `Mystique -- what number is she?' ``

Michigan St. 76, Vanderbilt 64

What a great day to be a Spartan. Shortly after Michigan State reached the men's Final Four with a double-overtime victory over Kentucky, Kristin Haynie led the women's team into the Kansas City Regional final with the second triple-double in team history.

Rutgers 64, Ohio State 58

All the bumping, pushing and shoving Rutgers did on defense didn't stop Ohio State All-American Jessica Davenport. It did, however, shut down the rest of the Buckeyes and put the Scarlet Knights a win away from a Final Four appearance.

Michigan State Beats Kentucky in Double OT

Michigan State recovered from Kentucky's 3-point prayer that sent the game into overtime, taking over in the second extra session and pulling away for a 94-88 victory Sunday to cap a weekend filled with heart-stopping finishes.

Carolina Tops Wisconsin to Make Final Four

Rashad McCants made the big plays down the stretch, Sean May dominated inside and North Carolina is back in the Final Four for the first time in five years.

March 27, 2005

Health of Monaco's Prince Rainier Deteriorates

MONACO - The health of Monaco's Prince Rainier, who has been put in intensive care in the Mediterranean principality, is continuing to deteriorate and doctors cannot vouch for his survival, his palace said in a statement.

The 81-year-old prince, widower of film icon Grace Kelly, has been suffering from a lung infection complicated by cardiac and kidney problems.

"Despite the most appropriate treatment, and having controlled his bronchial-lung infection, the functioning of his heart, lungs and kidneys is progressively deteriorating," the palace said in a medical bulletin.

It added that doctors were extremely cautious about whether he would live.

March 26, 2005

Illinois Edges Past Arizona in Chicago Final

Deron Williams scored 22 points and sparked a late Illinois comeback, as the Illini advanced to the Final Four with a thrilling 90-89 overtime victory over Arizona in the Chicago Region final of the NCAA Tournament.

Louisville Wins Albuquerque Final

Larry O'Bannon scored five of his 24 points in overtime, and Louisville advanced to its first Final Four in 19 years with a 93-85 victory over West Virginia in the NCAA Tournament's Albuquerque Regional final.

Duke 63, Georgia 57

Opposing defenses worry about Monique Currie's offense. But they should also be concerned with the Duke All-American's rebounding. Currie and Mistie Williams led the Blue Devils' attack of the boards, a key in their 63-57 victory over Georgia.

LSU 90, Liberty 48

LSU showed again why it is good to be the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. The Lady Tigers posted their third straight blowout victory against an overmatched opponent, this time beating 13th-seeded Liberty 90-48 Saturday.

(3) Connecticut (25-7) vs. (2) Stanford (31-2)
Game Info: 10:00 pm EST Sun Mar 27, 2005
Kansas City Region - Municipal Auditorium (Kansas City, MO)

Not receiving a No. 1 seed despite finishing the season as the top-ranked team in the country hasn't been a factor in Stanford's run through the NCAA tournament -- until now.

After breezing past their first two opponents, the second-seeded Cardinal are now confronted with the daunting task of ending the reign of three-time defending national champion Connecticut in the regional semifinals.

Though Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer shrugged off the selection committee's snub both before and after easy victories over Santa Clara and Utah in the opening rounds, she did let on that her team could have waited another few days, or even a week, to face the Huskies.

``I think there's probably some people surprised that it's a regional semifinal game and not a regional final or a Final Four game,'' she said. ``I'm sure UConn feels the same way.

``I think it will be hard because one team is not going to move on. I'm sure both feel they're deserving of being an Elite Eight team or a Final Four team, but the bracket was not designed that way.''

The Stanford-UConn game is a rarity for the NCAAs -- the nation's No. 1-ranked team against the defending champion. The only other such game occurred in 1997, when Tennessee beat top-ranked Connecticut in a regional final on the way to the second of its three straight NCAA championships.

The third-seeded Huskies have cruised to easy wins over Dartmouth and Florida State to reach their 12th consecutive regional semifinal. Connecticut has won 20 straight tournament games -- one shy of Tennessee's all-time record -- dating to a loss to Notre Dame in the 2001 Final Four.

Though his team has had its way thus far, UConn coach Geno Auriemma expects a much stiffer challenge from the Cardinal.

``Hopefully we can come out with the same energy level on Sunday because it's going to be a whole different ball of wax,'' he said.

The Huskies used superior depth and defense to dominate Florida State on Tuesday. Ann Strother scored 19 points, and Jessica Moore had 11 points, 12 rebounds and three steals as UConn won its sixth in a row overall.

``Defensively we covered everything we wanted to cover. Offensively, we were really in sync with each other,'' Auriemma said. ``When we put in a whole new group, I think it took its toll on Florida State because I think they were already a little bit winded.''

The Cardinal have reeled off 22 wins in a row, including Tuesday's 88-62 rout of Utah. Brooke Smith scored 20 points to lead five players in double figures as Stanford got by without a big effort from top scorer Candice Wiggins, who finished with eight points in 25 minutes.

``We're really excited about what's to come,'' Smith said. ``What's really great about us right now is we're not expecting to win, but we're excited to win.''

Stanford leads the all-time series 3-2, but has lost its last two meetings with UConn, including an 87-60 defeat at the 1995 Final Four. The Huskies went on to win their first national title that year.

The winner will face either top-seeded Michigan State or No. 5 seed Vanderbilt on Tuesday for a trip to Indianapolis.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Connecticut - F Barbara Turner (10.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg), C Moore (8.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg), G Nicole Wolff (4.2 ppg, 2.2 apg), G Strother (13.0 ppg, 3.2 apg), G Ashley Valley (2.8 ppg, 1.5 rpg). Stanford - F Wiggins (17.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.8 apg), F Kristen Newlin (8.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg), C Smith (13.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg), G Kelley Suminski (11.2 ppg, 2.7 apg), G Susan Borchardt (8.3 ppg, 1.7 apg).

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Connecticut - Automatic bid, Big East tournament champion; beat No. 14 Dartmouth 95-47, first round; beat No. 6 Florida 70-52, second round. Stanford - Automatic bid, Pac-10 champion; beat No. 15 Santa Clara 94-57, first round; beat No. 10 Utah 88-62, second round.

ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORD: Connecticut - 55-11, 17 years. Stanford - 42-16, 19 years.

UConn faces major challenge in Final Four bid

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Connecticut has run into some major hazards on the road to its five national championships. Close calls, determined opponents and usually, somewhere along the line, Tennessee.

But a game against the nation's No. 1-ranked team in the regional semifinals? No, the Huskies haven't seen anything like this since they burst onto the national scene with their first NCAA title in 1995.

To get to the next step in its bid to win an unprecedented fourth consecutive championship, third-seeded Connecticut (25-7) has to beat second-seeded Stanford on Sunday in the semifinals of the Kansas City Regional. It's a matchup of two power-packed programs steeped in tradition.

Neither would look out of place at the Final Four, but only one will even make it to the final eight.

``As we were coming out here, we were thinking that each and every year, these two (regional) games are probably the most difficult games that you need to win,'' UConn coach Geno Auriemma said.

``And certainly this year when you think about the level of competition that's out here, it's probably more difficult than any other time that we've experienced in the last 10 or 11 years.''

The other semifinal has been overshadowed by the UConn-Stanford matchup, but it's a worthy game, too -- top-seeded Michigan State against fifth-seeded Vanderbilt. And if those teams might be flying under the radar a little -- if that's possible for a No. 1 seed -- then so be it.

Michigan State coach Joanne P. McCallie just wants to keep flying.

``We'll fly anywhere to the Final Four,'' McCallie said. ``Under the radar, over the radar, it doesn't matter.''

Stanford, which has won two national titles, comes in on the kind of roll that usually propels Connecticut into NCAA play. The Cardinal have the nation's longest winning streak at 22 and they've won those games by an average of 23.5 points.

They have a rising star in freshman Candice Wiggins, a second-team All-American; a solid post player in 6-foot-3 sophomore Brooke Smith and plenty of experience to go with them. A certain mystique has built up around Connecticut because of its incredible success, which includes 20 straight victories in the NCAAs, but that isn't likely to bother the Cardinal.

``I don't think you can say there isn't a mystique about them, but I think our team is really focusing more on ourselves,'' Stanford guard Susan King Borchardt said. ``We know it's going to be a good game. It's exciting for all of women's basketball. We're just going to be ready to play.''

Connecticut has lost more games this season than any UConn team since 1992-93, including three at home. At midseason, a sixth straight Final Four trip seemed out of the question.

No more. The Huskies have won six straight and nine of their last 10 and with a 10-player rotation, Auriemma has lots of options.

``We just have this understanding that this is March. You're one and done now,'' center Jessica Moore said. ``There's no more games to get better. We've been playing awesome. It seems like from one to 13, everybody's confidence level just raised up even higher.''

Some have suggested UConn has its swagger back. Auriemma won't go that far. These players, he said, aren't cut that way.

``We're very, very laid back,'' he said. ``We've been a very reactionary-type of group this year as opposed to where we walk out and we want to dictate how the battle's going to be fought. We're kind of wait and see. That's not normal for us, but that's kind of what we have.''

All the attention on UConn and Stanford has made Michigan State-Vanderbilt almost an afterthought. But if those two feel slighted, they're not showing it. Vanderbilt, in fact, seems to relish having the spotlight on someone else.

``I want to be able to surprise people,'' coach Melanie Balcomb said. ``I think it's easier to do that than to be the one everybody's looking at. I'm hoping a number one seed is looking past playing a number five and looking toward playing a UConn and a Stanford because of the whole recognition thing.''

Michigan State hasn't played like a No. 1 seed yet. The Spartans have looked tight and needed a last-second shot to beat eighth-seeded Southern California in the second round.

But this is all new for the Spartans, who went from being a No. 8 seed last year to the No. 1 now and are in the round of 16 for the first time.

``We played like we had a lot of stuff on our shoulders, like we had heavy shoulders the first couple of games,'' guard Kristin Haynie said. ``We just need to let loose and be free. That's what we did in practice. So tomorrow, hopefully we'll see a change in us and have more fun and play more free.''

March 25, 2005

Austin Bracket: Michigan State Upsets Duke

Paul Davis finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds as the Michigan State Spartans upended the Duke Blue Devils, 78-68, in the third round of the NCAA Tournament from the Frank Erwin Center.

Syracuse Bracket: Wisconsin Through to Final

Alando Tucker scored 22 points and Mike Wilkinson added 17 as Wisconsin used a big second half to defeat North Carolina State, 65-56, in a Syracuse Region semifinal matchup of the NCAA Tournament.
Students set more than 50 fires to celebrate WVU victory

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- University officials condemned students and fans who celebrated West Virginia's victory in an NCAA regional semifinal by setting about 50 street fires.

The Mountaineers defeated Texas Tech 65-60 on Thursday night, moving West Virginia into the regional finals for the first time since Jerry West led the school to the NCAA championship game in 1959.

``It's unfortunate that people who had nothing to do with the team's victory stole the spotlight briefly after the game,'' said Ken Gray, WVU's vice president for student affairs.

Gray vowed Friday that students who set fires will face sanctions, including expulsion.
West Virginia Tames Texas Tech 65-60

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The last time West Virginia went this far in the NCAA tournament, Jerry West was a Mountaineer. Kevin Pittsnogle and his unheralded teammates spoiled Bobby Knight's return to the round of 16, beating Texas Tech 65-60 Thursday night to move within one win of a surprising trip to the Final Four.

Pittsnogle scored 22 points, including a pair of clutch free throws with 17.2 seconds left to send the seventh-seeded Mountaineers (24-10) to Saturday's regional final against Rick Pitino's fourth-seeded Louisville Cardinals (32-4).

The Mountaineers led 62-55 with 3:54 left after Pittsnogle hit a pair of free throws, then held on despite not scoring a field goal the rest of the game.

West Virginia, a former bubble team and No. 8 seed in the Big East tournament, added another dramatic win to its best run in the NCAA tournament since 1959, when West and the Mountaineers lost the national title game 71-70 to California.

Pittsnogle, a muscular, tattooed 6-foot-11 forward who shoots and handles like a guard, carried the Mountaineers down the stretch. His 3-pointer with 6:10 left put West Virginia ahead to stay at 56-53.

But the Red Raiders, battling for their first trip to the round of eight, didn't go down easily. A three-point play by Jarrius Jackson and a layup by Devonne Giles — his first points since the opening minutes, cut West Virginia's lead to 62-60 with 1:17 left.

With the Mountaineers on their heels, Pittsnogle bailed them out. Jackson stole the ball near midcourt and raced in for a layup, but Pittsnogle blocked it with 57 seconds remaining. In the battle for the loose ball, the Red Raiders got three offensive rebounds and four shots, but all missed.

"That's exactly how I thought the game would go," Knight said. "I did not think it was going to be easy at all to score against them."

The ball started to roll out of bounds near the Texas Tech bench and the Mountaineers managed to save it and call a timeout with 30.5 seconds left.

West Virginia got the ball in Pittsnogle's hands and he was fouled. He swished both free throws and teammate D'or Fischer added a free throw in the final seconds to seal it.

Knight, in his fourth season at Texas Tech, was in the regional semifinals for the first time since 1994 with Indiana, the school he coached to three national titles before a messy divorce in September 2000. Knight's 854 career wins are 25 shy of Dean Smith's NCAA Division I record (879).

Pittsnogle, who hit 7 of 13 shots also had eight rebounds. Mike Gansey scored 11 and Patrick Beilein, the son of coach John Beilein, scored 10.

Ronald Ross led Texas Tech with 16 points, but also had four of the Red Raiders' 16 turnovers.

Ross, whom Knight has called one of his favorite players, took the brunt of Knight's frequent outbursts in a game marked by tenacious defense and plenty of contact inside and on the perimeter.

"From what I could see, both teams made it relatively difficult for the other, to do what they wanted to do offensively," Knight said.

At one point in the first half, Knight shouted at Ross after the former walk-on committed a turnover. In the second half, after another errant Tech pass, a red-faced Knight got in Ross' face and slapped him on the rear.

The tough-love approach worked. Ross, who hit just 3 of 11 shots in the first half, kept the Red Raiders in the game with three steals, all of which he converted into one-handed slams.

The Mountaineers, who hit nine 3s in a 111-105 double-overtime win over Wake Forest in the second round, hit six of their first nine 3-pointers, including four straight to take a 22-14 lead with 12:03 left in the first half. Gansey hit three and Beilein the other.

They were still up by seven when Beilein scored with 9:13 left, but the Mountaineers then went scoreless for nearly 7 minutes.

That allowed Tech to steadily chip away at the West Virginia lead, and Curtis Marshall's 3-pointer with 3:00 left ended a 9-0 run that gave the Red Raiders a 26-24 lead.

Knight, who was trying to reach a regional final for the first time since 1993, will have to wait at least another season to get his next NCAA win. He has 45, two behind John Wooden, who is third on the career list.

Notes: Giles and Pittsnogle turned the game's first 4 1/2 minutes into a one-on-one shootout. Giles had all 10 of the Red Raiders' points over that stretch and Pittsnogle scored the Mountaineers' first seven.

Louisville Upends Top-Seed Washington

Francisco Garcia finished with 23 points and Taquan Dean posted 19 points and nine rebounds, as Louisville secured a spot in the regional finals of the NCAA Tournament with a 93-79 victory over Washington.

Arizona Holds Off Oklahoma State 79-78

Give the ball to Salim Stoudamire and get out of his way. That's what Arizona did Thursday night. Stoudamire hit an off-balance jumper from the left side with 2.8 seconds left, sending Arizona to a pulsating 79-78 victory over Oklahoma State.

Illinois Advances to Elite Eight

Deron Williams and Dee Brown scored 21 points apiece, and top-seeded Illinois earned a berth in the Elite Eight with a 77-63 victory over upstart Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Thursday.

March 22, 2005

Prince Rainier of Monaco Placed in ICU

MONACO - Prince Rainier III of Monaco, who was hospitalized two weeks ago with a chest infection, has been placed in the intensive care unit, the palace said Tuesday.

After a marked improvement, "a recurring pulmonary infection required that the prince be transferred into an intensive care unit," the palace said in a statement.

The 81-year-old Rainier, whose movie-star wife, Grace Kelly, died in a car crash in 1982, has a history of heart problems and has suffered from poor health in recent years.

Rainier was admitted March 7 to a heart and chest clinic due to a "bronchial-pulmonary infection." The palace said three days later the initial infection had been "quickly brought under control." Rainier's doctors then decided he should undergo a series of cardiac examinations, given his past history of heart problems.

Rainier spent a week at the same Monaco hospital in October for treatment of a chest infection. He also was admitted to the clinic in February 2004 for a coronary lesion and a damaged blood vessel, and spent three weeks there the month before for what was described as general fatigue.

Monaco, a tiny principality famous for its casinos, Formula One Grand Prix and tax breaks that attract the rich and famous, is nestled on the Mediterranean Coast between Italy and the French Riviera.

Rainier assumed the throne in 1949. His heir is Crown Prince Albert, who is unmarried and has no children.

Monaco changed its succession law in 2002 to allow power to pass from a reigning prince who has no descendants to his siblings. Albert has two sisters, Princess Caroline and Princess Stephanie, both of whom have children.

March 21, 2005

Holdsclaw, looking for fresh start, traded to Los Angeles

WASHINGTON -- After ending her season early last year because of depression, Chamique Holdsclaw received a fresh start Monday when she was traded from the Washington Mystics to the Los Angeles Sparks.

In exchange for the three-time WNBA All-Star, the Mystics received forward DeLisha Milton-Jones and the 13th overall pick in this year's draft.

``I want to express my deep appreciation and gratitude to the Washington Mystics fans for their unwavering support, kindness and loyalty during my six years with the team -- especially during the tough times of this past season,'' Holdsclaw said in a statement released by the Mystics. ``I know that I greatly benefited from my experiences in Washington which will help me both personally and professionally as I move on.''

Holdsclaw was the WNBA's No. 1 overall pick in 1999 after leading Tennessee to three straight NCAA titles. She averaged 18.3 points and 9.0 rebounds in six seasons with the Mystics.

``Chamique is no doubt a great athlete and wonderful person,'' Sparks president Johnny Buss said. ``She will fit perfectly within the Sparks and Lakers family of great players.''

Holdsclaw was second in the league in scoring when she failed to show up for a game against Charlotte on July 24 because of an unspecified medical condition. She played in the next game, then missed the rest of the season. She also opted out of the U.S. national team for the Athens Olympics and missed the WNBA All-Star game.

The Mystics went on an unexpected playoff run in Holdsclaw's absence, winning five of their last six regular-season games before losing to Connecticut in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Holdsclaw's condition remained a mystery until she revealed it in an interview with The Washington Post in late October. She spent the WNBA offseason playing in Spain.

``Obviously, Chamique went through a very trying time personally last season, and we have attempted to support her in every way possible,'' Washington Sports and Entertainment president Susan O'Malley said. ``When she asked us to consider trading her for a fresh start, we felt it was best for everyone to honor that request.''

Milton-Jones averaged 9.8 points and 4.7 rebounds over 19 games for the Sparks before tearing an ACL in her knee in July. She has recovered quickly and has been playing in South Korea and Spain during the offseason.

``DeLisha brings championship experience to our roster and will provide leadership as we look to improve on last season's finish,'' Mystics coach Michael Adams said. ``While we are excited about adding DeLisha to the roster, we will certainly miss Chamique.''

Chaney Will Return As Temple Coach

John Chaney will return to coach Temple for another season, ending speculation about the Hall of Famer's future after a tumultuous conclusion to the season.

Arizona St. Shocks Notre Dame 70-61

Arizona State's aggressive defense, timely shooting and gritty determination earned the Sun Devils that coveted trip home for the Tempe Regional.

Georgia Upsets Third-Seeded Texas 70-68

Georgia started the season casting doubt on Texas' title hopes. Now the Bulldogs have confirmed it, knocking third-seeded Texas out of the NCAA tournament with a 70-68 victory in the second round Monday night.

Villanova's Sumpter Out for Tournament

Villanova forward Curtis Sumpter will miss the rest of the NCAA tournament after a MRI exam Monday revealed that he has a torn ligament in his left knee.
Duke Blue Devils Defeat Mississippi State Bulldogs

Daniel Ewing poured in a game-high 22 points and Mike Krzyzewski became the all-time winningest coach in the NCAA Tournament as the Duke Blue Devils defeated the Mississippi State Bulldogs, 63-55, in second round action from the Charlotte Coliseum.

Defending Champion UConn Beaten by NC State

Julius Hodge converted a three-point play with 4.3 seconds remaining in the game and North Carolina State held on for a 65-62 upset of defending champion Connecticut in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at the DCU Center.

Liberty 78, Penn State 70

Liberty's first NCAA tournament win was as shocking as the fashion in which it was accomplished. The Flames outhustled and outplayed perennial powerhouse Penn State in the second half Sunday night, salvaging an unlikely 78-70 victory.

March 19, 2005

(7) West Virginia 111, (2) Wake Forest 105, 2OT

CLEVELAND -- Shooting at baskets he practiced on all summer, former Cleveland prep star Mike Gansey fashioned yet another West Virginia upset -- this one in two overtimes.

The junior guard scored a career-high 29 points -- 19 of them in the two overtimes -- and the Mountaineers sent No. 2 seed Wake Forest to another stunning second-round loss, 111-105 on Saturday night.

West Virginia (23-10) will play Texas Tech next in the Albuquerque Regional, its deepest tournament run since it also made the round of 16 in 1998. The Mountaineers have beaten seven Top 25 teams this season, a school record.

The crowd at Cleveland State rooted Wisconsin-Milwaukee to an upset of Boston College in the first game, then reveled as Wake Forest (27-6) became the first ACC team knocked out of the tournament.

Wake Forest's 105 points were the second most for a losing team in tournament history, not the legacy the Demon Deacons wanted for one of their most promising seasons.

High expectations accompanied the Demon Deacons, who also lost in the second round as a No. 2 seed in 2003. They returned every scholarship player from last season, were ranked No. 1 in the country for two weeks and set a school record for wins in the NCAA opener.

The burden appeared to weigh on them in their 70-54 win over Chattanooga on Thursday. Several players conceded they felt some opening-game jitters.

This time, they couldn't hold onto a 13-point halftime lead or hold off a team that has made its mark by knocking off Top 25 teams. West Virginia tore through the Big East tournament to reach the finals, developing a knack for big finishes.

None was bigger than this one.

Gansey, a prep star for a suburban school who worked out at Cleveland State over the summer and had about 300 friends and relatives in the stands, made a free throw that tied it at 77 with 21 seconds left in regulation.

The frenetic pace stretched into overtime, with neither team ahead by more than a couple of baskets. It was tied at 93 when Wake Forest center Eric Williams blocked Johannes Herber's driving layup with 2 seconds to go at the end of the first overtime.

Wake Forest point guard Chris Paul scored 10 points in the first overtime, then fouled out with 3:24 to go in the second, walking slowly to the bench. Gansey had 10 in the first overtime and nine more in the second.

Wake Forest's Trent Strickland missed a 3-pointer with 29 seconds left in the second overtime, and Herber's fastbreak layup sealed it with 13 seconds to go. Patrick Beilein, the son of West Virginia coach John Beilein, threw the ball the length of the floor in jubilation when the buzzer sounded.

In the second half, West Virginia started holding its own inside and D'or Fischer, the star of the tournament's 2001 play-in game, momentarily took the stage again, turning it into a game.

Fischer, who blocked nine shots in Northwestern State's play-in win and later transferred to West Virginia, had a three-point play, a dunk and a block during a 10-3 spurt that cut it to 54-51 midway through the second half.
West Virginia Exorcises Demons

If the tourney is high drama, then West Virginia is the star of the show. The Mountaineers downed Wake Forest 111-105 in double overtime on Saturday.

Wisconsin-Milwaukee Shocks Boston College 83-75

This year's Cinderella team has been fitted with a slipper and its on the foot of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as the Panthers shocked Boston College 83-75 in second-round NCAA Tournament action at the Wolstein Center, earning a date in the Sweet 16.
14th-Seed Bucknell Stuns No. 3 Kansas

Bucknell's Chris McNaughton banked in a hook shot with 10.5 seconds left and Kansas' Wayne Simien missed a jumper from the foul line as time expired, as the Bison stunned the Jayhawks, 64-63, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

No. 13 Vermont Upsets Fourth-Seed Syracuse

Germain Mopa Njila and T.J. Sorrentine drained clutch three-pointers in overtime, and Vermont held on for a thrilling 60-57 upset of Syracuse in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Georgia Tech Defeats George Washington

Jarrett Jack scored a game-high 20 points as the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets defeated the George Washington Colonials 80-68 in opening-round action of the Albuquerque Bracket from the Gaylord Entertainment Center.

Slutskaya Wins Gold at World Figures

MOSCOW - Irina Slutskaya won the gold medal for the second time at the world championships Saturday, combining strength and style to cap an extraordinary season in which she prevailed despite a heart ailment and knee injury.

The Russian delivered a draining and dramatic program that featured seven clean triples to the delight of the home crowd.

"I'm happy because it's so difficult to come back so many times, to suffer so many misfortunes," said Slutskaya, who missed the 2003 worlds because of her ailing mother.

Sasha Cohen of the United States won the silver medal for the second straight year, and Carolina Kostner of Italy took the bronze. Michelle Kwan, the five-time world champion, was fourth, the first time since 1996 the American finished a world championship without a medal.

"I can leave Moscow satisfied, but disappointed, satisfied — kind of a roller-coaster ride and not as consistent as I wanted it to be," Kwan said.

The only indication of Slutskaya's health problems — an inflamed heart lining for which she's taking medication — was an apparent ebbing of energy in the steps sequence near the end of the program. It was a striking contrast from the worlds a year ago in Dortmund, Germany, where she was low-energy and uncertain and finished ninth.

Cohen was within three points of Slutskaya after the short program, but was nicked in the scoring for flaws in some jumps and for a triple flip in which she landed off-balance. She ended more than eight points behind Slutskaya, but seemed to regard the loss as more a challenge than a disappointment.

"I was really happy today," she said. "I stayed on my feet and I tried really hard and I'm really proud of my effort."

Cohen said the International Skating Union's new scoring system, used at the worlds for the first time this year, will help her refine her skating. The system gives precise scores for each technical element, rather than one general technical rating.

"You understand what's going on," she said. "You know the points mean something. You know that you bettered your performance, get more points. You can't really compare your performances under the 6.0 system."

Kostner capitalized on the new system's stronger technical emphasis with a triple-triple-double cascade that earned substantial points that helped offset small problems.

Kwan's performance in Moscow was her first under the new system. She was out of competition for most of the season, appearing only in a pair of invitationals before the worlds. Her free program, in which she fell on a triple salchow, lacked verve, although it was well above her qualifier, in which she skated the same program and ended ranked seventh.

"Ooh, bummer!" Kwan exclaimed after leaving the ice. "I was working on that salchow, too."

Russian skaters won gold in three of the four events, failing only in the men's after defending champion Evgeni Plushenko withdrew because of a groin injury. Switzerland's Stephane Lambiel won the men's event, his first medal of any kind in a major international competition, followed by Canada's Jeffrey Buttle and American Evan Lysacek in his debut appearance at the worlds.

In pairs, Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin won their second consecutive gold, followed by compatriots Maria Petrova and Alexei Tikhonov and China's Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao.

Ice dancers Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostomarov defended their championship. Tanith Belbin's and Ben Agosto's silver was the first medal for Americans in the event since 1985. Ukraine's Elena Grushina and Ruslan Goncharov took bronze.