Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: Women's NCAA Report

by Ray Foriani

TRENTON. NJ - With the parity and upsets these days in women’s basketball (see Ball state -Tennessee) maybe UCONN might have started thinking a bit. There were just over 6 minutes remaining in the first half and they trailed California 31-23 in the Trenton Regional semifinal at Sovereign Bank Arena. The numbers and body of work were less than their standard.


The last six plus minutes saw the Huskies find the range and, most important, lock down defensively. The Cal numbers over those minutes...


The Huskies had a 35-33 halftime lead and , of greater significance, the momentum. They came out strong the second half. Cal did not have an answer and soon a very competitive game was shaping as a rout. The UCONN defensive numbers those final 26 plus minutes are quite an eye opener.


Offensively the Huskies turned in this performance over that juncture.


The final totals in the 77-54 decision.


Freshman guard Tiffany Hayes sparked UCONN hitting a few big shots when Cal had that lead ad threatened to get it to double digits. Hayes finished with a game high 28 points. Hayes was an uncanny 9 of 10 from the field, including 5 of 6 from beyond the arc. In fact the Huskies shot 56% (9 for 16) from three point range and 40% (19 for 47) from two. Ashley Walker led Cal with 21 points but only five following intermission.

In the nightcap both coaches expected a grind it out defensive battle. What they got was an entertaining offensive affair. Arizona State pulled the big upset stopping second seed Texas A & M 84-69. With 11 minutes left in the half it was an eleven possession game, the score was tied at 19 and both clubs had an astounding 1.73 PPP. At the half it ’settled’ to this.

Arizona St42321.312569
Texas A & M37341.092157

For most of the second half it was a two possession lead with Arizona State in front. In the stretch the Sun Devils pulled away as A & M gambled and in the latter minutes was in a fouling mode trying to extend the contest. The final numbers:

Arizona St84691.222666
Texas A & M69720.962449

That defense did show up the second half as Arizona State limited their opponents to 42% shooting from the field. ASU guard Briann January led all scorers with 22 points. Hot shooting carried to the charity stripe as ASU was 18 of 21 and Texas A & M perfect in ten tries. On Tuesday it’s UConn and Arizona State in what may be an interesting contest with a trip to St.Louis at stake.

Quotes: "Geno (Auriemma) is a hall of fame coach and this is one of his best teams for a number of reasons. It is an incredible opportunity to play them." - Arizona State coach Charli Turner Thorne

"We haven’t given it a lot of thought. At this time your entire focus is the next game. We were concerned about playing today. If you don’t win today you do not play on Tuesday." - UCONN coach Geno Auriemma on being top ranked and undefeated.

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