TCU Falls To No. 1 Connecticut, 81-66
March 25, 2003
By DONNA TOMMELLEO
STORRS, Conn. - Diana Taurasi scored a career-high 35 points to lead top-seeded Connecticut to an 81-66 win over stubborn TCU on Tuesday night.
The junior guard had 10 points in an 18-2 run to open the second half, erasing a two-point halftime deficit. UConn (33-1) has only trailed three times in the last 87 games and for most of the first half, the Huskies' home-winning streak of 62 games was in jeopardy.
UConn will play Big East rival Boston College in the East Regional semifinal on Sunday in Dayton, Ohio.
Against the ninth-seeded Lady Frogs (20-14), UConn ran into a team just as big and fast. Its problems started in the middle against center Sandora Irvin, who led TCU with 19 points and nine rebounds.
The school's all-time leader in blocked shots, Irvin dominated inside, putting UConn defenders in foul trouble early. The 6-foot-4 sophomore got solid help on the perimeter as Tricia Payne hit a pair of 3s and Tiffany Evans added another in the first three minutes of the game.
Taurasi brought the defending national champs back with consecutive 3s to tie it at 8, but the Lady Frogs' hustle and size inside kept the Huskies on their heels, and they stretched the lead to seven twice in the half.
With Irvin out late in the half due to foul trouble, UConn found more success inside. The Huskies tied the game at 33 on a layup by Willnett Crockett with 24 seconds before halftime. That lasted just a few seconds as an inside bucket by Tiffany Evans put TCU up 35-33 at the half.
Taurasi took over in the second half as the Huskies went on their big run.
TCU never recovered and trailed by as many as 19.
But Irvin wouldn't go away. She drew the fourth foul on both Taurasi and center Jessica Moore in the final 10 minutes. With both out, TCU went on an 11-2 run, which included Irvin going 8-of-10 from the foul line.
Taurasi returned in time to hit a 3-pointer with 8:11 left as the Huskies held off the Lady Frogs the rest of the way.
Ashley Battle finished with 16 points and a team-high 11 boards for UConn. Moore had a dozen points and nine boards as UConn outrebounded TCU 44-34.
Tricia Payne had 14 points for TCU and Evans added 12.
The Lady Frogs failed to advance beyond the second round for the third straight year.