KINGSTON, R.I. — A balanced offense and a stingy defense carried Geno Auriemma and his Connecticut Huskies to another regional final.
Bria Hartley scored 20 points, Kelly Faris added 15 and No. 1 seed UConn advanced to the NCAA tournament’s regional finals for the seventh straight year with a 77-59 win over Penn State on Sunday.
The Huskies’ stellar defense stymied the Nittany Lions, who averaged 87.5 points in the first two games of the Kingston Regional.
“It’s something we take a lot of pride in,” Faris said of the defense. “It’s something we work on day in and day out. Our offense stems from that. We play with four guards and a lot of switching and everyone has to know all the personnel. Today, it came down to everyone talking and helping each other out. We covered well for each other.”
The Huskies will face Kentucky — which beat Gonzaga 79-62 — on Tuesday night with a berth in the Final Four on the line.
Leading 36-27 late in the first half, UConn (32-4) used a 17-2 run spanning halftime to blow the game open. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis started the spurt with a 3-pointer. Two free throws by Tiffany Hayes made it 43-29 at the break. UConn then scored the first 10 points of the second half to extend the margin to 53-29. Hartley capped the run with a lay-in.
Penn State (26-7) scored the next nine points to pull to 53-38, but the Nittany Lions could get no closer.
NOTRE DAME 79, ST. BONAVENTURE 35: Natalie Novosel scored 16 points and Notre Dame advanced to the Raleigh Regional final by routing St. Bonaventure 79-35 on Sunday.
Kalia Turner scored 14 points and Kayla McBride added 10 for the top-seeded Irish (33-3).
They shot 52.5 percent, never trailed and led by 45 before matching a 22-year-old record for scoring margin in the regional round while cruising into the finals for the second straight year.
Notre Dame will play second-seeded Maryland on Tuesday night with a spot in the Final Four on the line.
CeCe Dixon had 13 points and Doris Ortega added 11 for the fifth-seeded Bonnies (31-4).
MARYLAND 81, TEXAS A&M 74: Laurin Mincy had 21 points and 12 rebounds to help Maryland rally past Texas A&M in the semifinals of the Raleigh Regional.
Alyssa Thomas added 21 points and nine rebounds for the Terrapins (31-4), who trailed by 18 in the first half and 11 midway through the second. But Maryland fought its way back and held the reigning national champion Aggies (24-11) to one basket in the final 7½ minutes.
The Terrapins have won 10 straight and 13 of 14 since a home loss to Virginia Tech on Jan. 26. They’re back in a regional final for the first time since 2009, when they were in Raleigh as a No. 1 seed.
Freshman Alexia Standish scored 19 points to lead Texas A&M.
KENTUCKY 79, GONZAGA 62: Keyla Snowden made five 3-pointers, hitting a pair of them to turn back Gonzaga’s last charge as Kentucky beat the Zags 79-62 on Sunday in Kingston, R.I., to advance to the East Regional finals of the NCAA women’s tournament.
Snowden had 17 points, going 5 of 9 from 3-point range, and Samarie Walker scored 16 with 12 rebounds for No. 2 seed Kentucky, which will play top-seeded Connecticut on Tuesday for a spot in the Final Four in Denver. UConn beat Penn State 77-59 earlier in the day.
It’s the second trip to the regional finals for Kentucky (28-6) in three years.
Kayla Standish scored 25 for No. 11 seed Gonzaga (28-6), which reached the round of 16 for the third consecutive year.