Lady Huskies Are Headed For Tampa

By Richard Kent
Updated: April 2, 2008

GREENSBORO, N.C. — It was a game more befitting of a Final Four. Actually it might have been a game between the two best teams in the country. Tuesday night, UConn defeated Rutgers team 66-56 to advance to the Final Four for the first time since 2004.

Rutgers was a runner-up last season to Tennessee.

The Scarlet Knights held the lead for most of the game. They were up by as many as 14 in the first half on three different occasions. They led 32-27 at the half behind 12 points from Essence Carson.

UConn came out with a much more aggressive game plan in the second half and seemed to take Carson out of the game. They took their first lead at 48-46 at the 6:42 mark.

Rutgers clawed back and it wasn’t until a key three by Tournament MVP Maya Moore that UConn took the lead for good at 52-49. Rutgers face guarded Moore and held her to a season-low seven points.

She only had two in the first half. In the Rutgers victory earlier in the season against UConn at the Rutgers Athletic Center, Moore did not score in the first half. She was named a first team All-American earlier in the day.

It seemed strange that Rutgers and UConn would meet in Greensboro to perhaps decide a National Championship. The crowd was only 4,623 and the game would have sold out virtually any arena in the East. It also prevented the Big East from sending two teams to the Final Four.

Rutgers seemed to be the more inspired team in the first half,diving for loose balls and riding the coattails of Carson. Charde Houston kept UConn in the game with eight points on 4-of-5 shooting. She played very little in the second half.

For the game UConn was 19-of-21 from the free throw line and Rutgers was only 3-of-5. The Scarlet Knights were led in scoring by Matee Ajavon with 18 points.

The game marked the end of the playing careers of Ajavon, Carson and Katie Adams. Ajavon and Carson are two of the most decorated players in Rutgers history and almost certain WNBAers.

UConn will meet Stanford at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday in Tampa in one National semi-final (ESPN) while Tennessee will play LSU in the other. The Lady Vols could be without the services of star Candace Parker who injured her shoulder in a 53-45 win over Texas A&M Tuesday night.

UConn has beaten Stanford and LSU this season and has yet to play Tennessee.