9:30 PM ET, April 4, 2004
New Orleans Arena, New Orleans, LA
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The buzzer sounded and Diana Taurasi smiled, then slapped hands with teammate Ann Strother.They could breathe a little easier, having just helped Connecticut fight off a gutsy Minnesota team to keep the Huskies on track for a third straight NCAA title. And their opponent? None other than Tennessee -- again.
|From the start, UConn's defense was the difference. The Huskies got Janel McCarville off the boards, and early on the Minnesota post was playing at the top of the key a lot on offense. McCarville entered the game averaging a tournament-best 17 rebounds, but only grabbed three in the first half and finished with seven, 10 below that average. Obviously, UConn's ability to keep her off the boards was huge.
The Huskies overall defense really set the tone. They played man, then switched to a 2-3 matchup, and at one time even appeared to be playing a box-and-one. As a result, Minnesota got really disoriented in its halfcourt game. Lindsay Whalen struggled to make things happen. She passed the ball well (seven assists), but also had five turnovers.
Diana Taurasi had a great game and set up her teammates. But the Huskies had a lot of players step up. Maria Conlon (10 points, 4-for-7 from the field) and Ann Strother (nine points, 4-for-7) stepped up and hit shots. Ashley Battle (eight points) and Willnett Crockett (nine points), especially, were big off the bench.
-- ESPN analyst Ann Meyers
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