All is well at Connecticut again. The NCAA women's basketball tournament is under way and the defending champion started it in its usual fashion -- with a lopsided victory at home.
Playing for the first time since its 70-game winning streak was broken in a loss to Villanova, UConn overwhelmed Boston University 91-44 Sunday in the first round of the East Regional. The Huskies are hoping it was the first win in a six-game streak that produces their third national title in four years.
"When you make shots everything looks good," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "In the Villanova game we didn't make any shots so we looked horrible and we stood around and we pouted. (Sunday) we got the game going the way we wanted it to go."
Connecticut returned to form on a day that produced the only major upset of the opening round -- 11th-seeded Notre Dame beating No. 6 seed Arizona 59-47 in an East game in Manhattan, Kan.
The only other game that didn't go according to form was a No. 9 over a No. 8, TCU beating Michigan State 50-47 in the East for the right to play Connecticut on Tuesday night.
Otherwise, the favorites all advanced, though top-seeded Duke (Midwest) and third-seeded Kansas State (East) both had tough games against feisty opponents.
Duke, which has lost only to Connecticut, pulled away late to beat Georgia State 66-48 in Raleigh, N.C., behind Alana Beard's 19 points. Kansas State saw a 19-point second-half lead sliced to eight before pulling out a 79-69 victory over 14th-seeded Harvard.
"I wasn't really shocked because they are a good team," said Duke's Iciss Tillis, whose team led just 45-37 with under nine minutes to play. "But I had confidence we would pull the game out somehow. I knew we would get some defensive stops when we needed them."
Texas Tech, seeded No. 2 in the Midwest, also found itself in a tussle before escaping with a 67-59 win over 15th-seeded Southwest Missouri State.
In other Midwest games, Utah beat DePaul 73-64, and UC Santa Barbara downed Xavier 71-62. In the Mideast, Penn State got 27 points from Kelly Mazzante in beating Holy Cross 64-33, South Carolina beat Chattanooga 68-54, Villanova shut down St. Francis 51-36, and George Washington beat Oklahoma 71-61 on the Sooners' home floor.
A home team also lost in the West, Arkansas beating Cincinnati 71-57. Also in the West, it was Texas 90, Hampton 46; Louisiana Tech 94, Pepperdine 60; and Ohio State 66, Weber State 44.
The second round starts Monday night with eight games. In the East, it's Boston College (21-8) against Vanderbilt (22-9), and Virginia Tech (22-9) vs. Purdue (27-5). In the Mideast, Tennessee (29-4) plays Virginia (17-13), and Colorado (23-7) takes on North Carolina (28-5).
In the Midwest, Georgia (20-9) plays Rutgers (21-7), and New Mexico (23-8) goes against Mississippi State (24-7). And in the West, LSU (28-3) plays Wisconsin-Green Bay (28-3), and Minnesota (24-5) meets Stanford (27-4).
Sunday's winners play on Tuesday night. It's Connecticut (31-1) vs. TCU (20-13), and Kansas State (29-4) vs. Notre Dame (20-10) in the East; South Carolina (23-7) vs. Penn State (25-8), and Villanova (26-5) vs. George Washington (25-6) in the Mideast; Duke (32-1) vs. Utah (24-6), and UC Santa Barbara (27-4) vs. Texas Tech (27-5) in the Midwest; and Louisiana Tech (30-2) vs. Ohio State (22-9), and Arkansas (22-10) vs. Texas (26-5) in the West.
Connecticut turned to its leader, junior guard Diana Taurasi, to get back on track. Taurasi, who has been playing through chronic back and ankle pain, scored 21 points, went 4-for-7 on 3-point shots and had seven assists.
Freshman Barbara Turner added 15 points and 10 rebounds to give the Huskies a lift.
At Storrs, Conn.
Boston University 44
UConn spoiled Boston University's tournament debut with a sparkling performance. The Huskies had a 46-21 rebounding edge, made 11 3-pointers and scored 30 points off turnovers.
Since 1995, when Connecticut captured its first national title, the Huskies have won their first-round games by an average of 49 points.
"The way we practiced last week carried over into the game," said freshman Ann Strother, who scored 16 points. "Hopefully, we'll keep carrying it."
Adrienne Norris led Boston U. (16-15) with 16 points.
TCU 50, Michigan St. 47
Grace Gantt scored seven of her 15 points in the final eight minutes to help TCU hold on. Syretta Bromfield led Michigan State (17-12) with 18 points and 15 rebounds.
At Manhattan, Kan.
Kansas St. 79,
Kansas State was 9-of-11 from the line in the final 1:03 to hold on after Harvard sliced a 19-point lead to eight. The Crimson hit four 3-pointers in their comeback and contained K-State's Nicole Ohlde, who had scored 15 points in the first half.
Ohlde finished with 20 points on 8-for-9 shooting and teammate Kendra Wecker scored 21. Reka Cserny scored 25 points to lead Harvard (22-5), which had won 16 straight.
Notre Dame 59,
Alicia Ratay, scoreless the last time Notre Dame played, sparked the Irish in a game marked by poor shooting on both sides. Ratay scored nine of her 20 points in a 15-0 second-half run that gave Notre Dame a 49-37 lead.
Arizona (22-9), which got 17 points from Krista Warren, shot a season-low 22.6 percent and committed 23 turnovers. Notre Dame shot 29 percent.
At State College, Pa.
South Carolina 68,
Christina Ciocan scored eight of her 18 points during a 13-0 second-half run to rally fifth-seeded South Carolina. The run lifted the Gamecocks from a one-point deficit to a 61-49 lead. Miranda Warfield led Chattanooga (26-5) with 18 points.
Penn St. 64,
Holy Cross 33
Mazzante outscored the entire Holy Cross team in the first half, putting up 19 points as the fourth-seeded Lady Lions took a 38-16 lead. Holy Cross (24-8) never got closer than 22 in the second half and finished with its fewest points in a game since a 55-32 loss to Lafayette in 1992.
At Norman, Okla.
George Washington 71,
Cathy Joens had 22 points, 14 in the second half when seventh-seeded GW held off an Oklahoma rally. Ugo Oha added 14 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks for the Colonials. Maria Villarroel's 26 points led Oklahoma (19-13), which reached the NCAA title game last year.
St. Francis, Pa. 36
Villanova followed up its victory over Connecticut with another strong defensive effort. The second-seeded Wildcats held St. Francis (23-8) scoreless for 10 minutes in the first half and for seven minutes while pulling away late in the game. Katie Davis led Villanova with 15 points. Carlin Chesick scored 15 for St. Francis.
At Raleigh, N.C.
Duke 66, Georgia St. 48
Duke set a school record for wins in struggling to beat 16th-seeded Georgia State (20-11). The Blue Devils shot only 29 percent in the second half but pulled away by holding Georgia State to 11 points over the final 12 minutes. Patechia Hartman led Georgia State with 16 points.
Utah 73, DePaul 64
Kim Smith scored 35 points, one short of the school record, and Utah closed the first half with a 25-8 run.
At Lubbock, Texas
UC Santa Barbara 71,
UC Santa Barbara regained control with a late run after Xavier (20-10) pulled within a point. Mia Fisher scored 14 points and Lindsay Taylor added 13 to lead the Gauchos. Amy Waugh's 19 points led Xavier.
Texas Tech 67,
SW Missouri St. 59
Plenette Pierson had 25 points and 13 rebounds for Texas Tech, which led by as many as 17 before fending off the Lady Bears (18-13) down the stretch. Freshman Kari Koch led SMS with 19 points.
Texas 90, Hampton 46
Heather Schreiber scored 17 points to help Texas win its 14th straight. Texas coach Jody Conradt gave her reserves plenty of playing time after the Longhorns took a 52-20 halftime lead. LaShondra Dixon had 15 points for Hampton (23-9).
Shameka Christon scored 13 points in the second half to help seventh-seeded Arkansas rally after trailing by five at halftime. Dana Cherry led Arkansas with 18 points. Carolyn Alexander scored 19 points for Cincinnati (23-8).
Ohio St. 66, Weber St. 44
Coach Jim Foster has the Buckeyes in the second round of the NCAA tournament in his first season on the job. Kim Wilburn scored 19 points to lead the fourth-seeded Buckeyes, who were 14-15 last season. Foster formerly coached at Vanderbilt and Saint Joseph's.
Louisiana Tech 94,
Erica Smith scored 28 points as the fifth-seeded Lady Techsters won their 28th straight game, the longest active streak in the nation. Tamara McDonald's 16 points led Pepperdine (22-8), making its third tournament appearance in the past four years.
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