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WOMEN'S NCAA UConn moves forward but not without scare



Published: Wed, April 2, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



Purdue roared back in the final minutes before the Huskies restored order.

DAYTON (AP) -- Connecticut's players didn't pose for the camera, pile on each other or exchange hugs and tears after earning their seventh trip to the Final Four.

"We still have a job to do," forward Jessica Moore said.

Diana Taurasi scored 21 points and the defending national champions held on after letting much of a 22-point slip away to beat Purdue 73-64 on Tuesday night to win the East Regional.

Off and running

The top-ranked Huskies (35-1) took control with a 17-0 first-half run to set up a semifinal meeting with Texas, which beat LSU 78-60 in the West Regional final, in Atlanta on Sunday.

"I'm tired," Taurasi said. "We feel great. It's more of a relief. The season's so long. Just because we're not jumping up and down and diving on the floor -- we're still really happy."

The 17-0 run was the crushing blow after Purdue had scored the first three points. The Boilermakers missed all 11 shots from the field and made three turnovers. They shot 19.4 percent from the field in the first half, hitting just 6 of 31 shots.

"The bottom line was we missed shots and when we missed those shots we lost our confidence," Purdue coach Kristy Curry said. "You can credit UConn's defense -- or maybe the ball just wouldn't go into the hoop."

Taurasi scored eight points in the blitz as the Huskies took a 41-22 lead at the half. They led by as many as 22 in the second half and were still on top 58-38 as the final 10 minutes rolled around.

Wait a second

Just as Connecticut's fans were picking up their cell phones to reserve rooms near the Georgia Dome, the Boilermakers came roaring back.

"When the kids looked at the clock at halftime, it was like, 'Oh, man. We worked so hard and we've still got 20 minutes to go,' " Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said. "That's why at one point I said to them during a timeout with 10 minutes left, 'Look, guys, we get to the five-minute mark and we're still up 20, you know what? We're going to the Final Four. So you've got five minutes left.' "

His countdown didn't work.

"They were awful the next five minutes," he said with a laugh. "That's the worst I've seen us play."

Lindsey Hicks' 3-pointer from the top of the key with 2:02 left cut the lead to 66-60 before the Huskies' guards restored order.

Taurasi made three free throws and often-overlooked point guard Maria Conlon, who had 12 points along with Moore, hit four more foul shots to prevent Purdue (29-6) from getting any closer.




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