Thomas carries Maryland past Louisville, into Final Four

Posted April 01, 2014, at 10:50 p.m.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Alyssa Thomas had 22 points, 13 rebounds and three steals Tuesday night as the Terrapins advanced to their first NCAA Division I women’s basketball Final Four since 2006 by holding off the Cardinals for a 76-73 victory on their home floor in regional final.

Lexie Brown added 20 points, six rebounds and four assists for the fourth-seeded Terrapins (28-6), who advance to face Notre Dame in the national semifinals. Katie Rutan added 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point range for Maryland, which finished 25-of-28 from the free throw line.

Shoni Schimmel led third-seeded Louisville (33-5) with 31 points and five steals, but missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer. Antonita Slaughter chipped in with 16 points and Asia Taylor had 12 points, eight rebounds and six assists, but the Cardinals couldn’t overcome 39.1 percent shooting from the field, including 8-of-24 from 3-point range.

The first half was tight throughout with 10 lead changes as neither team could establish a significant advantage. The Cardinals closed with an 8-2 run to take a four-point halftime advantage and upped the lead to seven in the opening moments of the second half.

Maryland used a 12-0 run midway through the half — holding the Cardinals scoreless for 7:32 — to take control. Louisville rallied to within two with seven seconds left on a 3-pointer by Schimmel before Thomas hit 1-of-2 from the line — part of the Terrapins’ 10-of-12 shooting from the line in the final 1:06 — and Louisville couldn’t come up with a miracle shot at the end.

Summitt’s son named La. Tech coach

Tyler Summitt, the son of a women’s basketball coaching legend, is becoming head coach of a storied women’s program.

The son of former Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt will be introduced Wednesday as the new coach at Louisiana Tech, the school announced on Tuesday.

The release said neither Summitt nor school officials would comment on the hire until a Wednesday press conference.

After two years as an assistant at Marquette, Summitt, 23, will become the sixth coach in Louisiana Tech history. He’s replacing Teresa Weatherspoon, who was Tech’s coach for the past five seasons.

Louisiana Tech and Tennessee are the only two women’s programs with more than 1,000 victories. Pat Summitt developed her program by competing with Tech, which has won three national championships (two NCAA, one AIAW) and appeared in 13 Final Fours. Tennessee, Stanford and Georgia are the only programs with more NCAA appearances than Tech’s 27.

The Lady Techsters haven’t won a title, though, since 1988. Their last NCAA appearance was 2010-11. They were 12-20 this past season.

UConn 69, Texas A&M 54

At Lincoln, Neb., top-ranked Connecticut advanced to its 15th Final Four, the Huskies’ seventh straight since 2008, with a 69-54 win Monday night over Texas A&M before 7,169 at the Pinnacle Bank Arena.

UConn (38-0), which has now won 44 straight dating to a first-round win over Idaho in last year’s tournament, again had all five starters score double-figures, led by Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis. The junior scored 17 points with seven rebounds.

Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson had 14 points each. Breanna Stewart scored 13 and Moriah Jefferson scored 11.

Texas A&M (27-9) was paced by Courtney Walker (14 points) and Jordan Jones (12 points).

As usual over the last few years, UConn climbed no victory ladder and took home no cord. The important nets hang off the rims at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.

UConn (38-0) will play the winner of the Stanford-North Carolina regional final Tuesday in Palo Alto, Calif., in one of Sunday’s national semifinals.

The women join the UConn men in next weekend’s Final Four fray. It will be the fourth time in program history (2004, 2009 and 2011) the Husky men and women go together.

They each won the championship in 2004, the only time that has ever happened.

The Huskies operated in a style so reminiscent this season. They got off to a slow start, caught up and then got hot. But it wasn’t quite that easy.

The Huskies led 34-23 at the half but two quick threes by sophomore guard Jones, the first two of the regional for the Aggies, took a trim to it. Another basket by Jones made it 40-37 with 15:08 to play.

And the rally died. A basket by Moriah Jefferson kicked off a 10-0 run that included three-pointers from Bria Hartley and Breanna Stewart. That re-installed UConn’s largest lead to that point (13) at 50-37 with 11:39 to play.

As for the specifics of how it all began: The Huskies fell behind, 11-4, in the first 6:12. Had Aggies’ guard Jordan Jones dropped the second of two free throws she had at the time, the resulting eight-point lead would have been the largest UConn had faced this season.

While this situation wasn’t fatal, it was somewhat annoying. On Saturday against BYU, the Huskies fell behind, 27-21, before mounting their big comeback.

Much like the BYU game, it was Mosqueda-Lewis in the midst of the rally. She scored seven straight in an 11-2 run that provided a 15-13 lead with 9:27 remaining, UConn’s first since Stewart opened the game with a hoop just 45 seconds in.

From there, it was all UConn. The nation’s best defense put the Aggies into a tight squeeze, limiting them to just 10 points in the final 10:18. Texas A&M was just 11-for-38 in the first half.

On the other end, UConn’s offense, fueled exclusively by their starters, took flight. The first 10-point lead (27-17) came with a burst of speed from Jefferson with 3:52 to play. The sophomore guard’s next dagger was tossed from three 50 seconds later. It was UConn’s game.

The Huskies had defeated BYU, 70-51, in one of Saturday’s semifinals. It was a tough game for longer than UConn expected, and it some ways made them more alert considering the off nights their All-Americans had offensively. The Huskies shot 39.4 percent from the floor, 3-for-19 from three.

The Aggies used defense and 60 percent shooting to beat DePaul on Saturday. That was an effort that featured a distinct lack of a perimeter attack; the Aggies were 0-for-2 from three-point range.

The oddsmakers – yes, they do exist for the women’s basketball – designated the Aggies a 24-point underdog, no doubt noting how easily the Huskies won last year’s game against them (81-50) in College Station, Tex.

Gary Blair, the homespun Hall of Fame coach of the Aggies, warned the wise guys not to take his team lightly, pointing to the lack of respect his 2011 team received on the way to its first and only national title.

Blair, like all the other coaches, promised his team would battle for 40 minutes, the most important line item that needs to be checked off the upset-UConn check list.

But it takes a lot more to beat UConn this year than gumption. And the Aggies just didn’t have it their tank.


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