Pennsylvania 55

(17-11, 11-3 Ivy)

Connecticut 91

(26-4, 14-2 Big East)

    9:30 PM ET, March 21, 2004

    Webster Bank Arena, Bridgeport, Connecticut

    1 2 T
    PENN 23 3255
    CONN 51 4091

    Top Performers

    Pennsylvania: J. Clark 16 Pts, 5 Reb

    Connecticut: B. Turner 19 Pts, 5 Reb

    UConn will face Auburn on Tuesday

    BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) -- Surrounded by young, untested teammates, Diana Taurasi had to be great last March.

    The 2003 player of the year helped carry Connecticut to its second straight national title and fourth overall. This time around, she making sure she gets everyone involved.

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  • In the final NCAA Tournament of her stellar career, Taurasi had 18 points and nine assists Sunday night to lead the second-seeded Huskies to an easy 91-55 victory over Pennsylvania in the first round of the East Regional.

    Her favorite targets were Jessica Moore and Barbara Turner, usually wide open in the post. Turner had 17 points, all in the first half, and Moore finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

    "That was our plan coming in," Taurasi said. "Get to Jess and Barbara. Every game we go into, we want to get the ball inside."

    The Huskies (26-4) will take on Auburn in the second round Tuesday night. The seventh-seeded Tigers advanced with a 79-59 win over North Carolina State.

    The game was UConn's first since losing in the semifinals of the Big East tournament nearly two weeks ago to eventual champ Boston College. The layoff only helped to fire up the Huskies more, Moore said.

    "I think that after sitting out for so long and just waiting for the tournament to start, there was no possible way that we weren't going to come out with some kind of emotion, no matter who we were playing," Moore said.

    The 15th-seeded Quakers (17-11) were making only their second appearance in the tournament. Jewel Clark led the Ivy League champs with 16 points, and Mikaelyn Austen had 14.

    The Huskies dominated the smaller Quakers inside and their stingy defense led to easy transition baskets, putting the game out of reach quickly. Taurasi regularly found a cutting Moore or Turner for back-door baskets.

    "We pretty much played it the way we wanted to play it," coach Geno Auriemma said. "Penn's kids shot the ball like they expected every shot to go in. They didn't don't have enough good players like we do. But I'm glad we won because we played well, not just because we're a better team."

    UConn shot 59 percent in the first half and used a 20-5 run to take a 66-49 lead at the break. Taurasi opened the second half hitting her first of three 3-pointers and the blowout continued.

    The Huskies, in their 16th straight NCAA tournament, also had the backing of nearly 10,000 fans at HarborYard in Bridgeport, the home court of host school Fairfield. The arena is about an hour away from the Hartford Civic Center, UConn's second home court and proved to be just as friendly. Nearly every layup, 3-pointer and bullet pass by Taurasi brought a roar.

    With the East Regional semifinals and final in Hartford next weekend, the Huskies, winners of four NCAA titles, have a chance to make an unprecedented fifth straight Final Four without ever leaving their home state. UConn is 24-3 in NCAA games played in Connecticut and has won its last 23 home tournament games.

    The game marked the first time in seven NCAA games that Taurasi fell short of the 20-point mark. The 2003 national player of the year, Taurasi averaged 26.2 points in last year's tournament and scored 54 points in the Final Four. Taurasi was the lone returning starter from the championship team that went 39-0 the year before and graduated four All-Americans.

    Last year's title was considered a long-shot by many and expectations this year have put the Huskies in a unique situation, Auriemma said.

    "This tournament is different than any other," he said. "Maybe because we did the impossible last year and we're trying to do it again. We've never had a situation where people have had to repeat the impossible."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 55 91
    FG Made-Attempted 21-62 (.339) 32-58 (.552)
    3P Made-Attempted 6-16 (.375) 7-18 (.389)
    FT Made-Attempted 7-9 (.778) 20-27 (.741)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 20 (0/0) 10 (0/0)

    Game Leaders

    PointsJ. Clark 16B. Turner 19
    ReboundsJ. Fleisher 8J. Moore 11


    » Mar 21, 2004 @CONN 91, PENN 55Recap | Box Score