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UConn beats Kentucky, returns to Final Four

Published April 2, 2013 12:25 am

NCAA women • Huskies in semifinals for sixth straight year.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Bridgeport, Conn. • Connecticut is headed back to a familiar place — the Final Four.

Breanna Stewart scored 21 points and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis added 17 to help top-seed UConn rout Kentucky 83-53 on Monday night and advance to a record sixth-straight national semifinal.

The Huskies will face either Notre Dame or Duke in the national semifinals on Sunday in New Orleans. The Irish and Blue Devils play Tuesday night. UConn (33-4) broke a tie with Stanford (2008-12), LSU (2004-08) and itself (2000-04) by reaching the Final Four again.

It was the second straight season that UConn beat Kentucky in the regional finals. The Huskies topped the Wildcats by 15 last year 105 miles to the north of Bridgeport in Kingston, R.I.

This game wasn't as close. Kentucky stayed close for the first 10 minutes with its "40 minutes of dread" defense. Then UConn turned up its own defensive intensity.

The Huskies trailed 23-22 with just 9 minutes left in the first half. That's when Stewart — honored as the outstanding player of the Bridgeport Regional — and UConn's "no-name" defense took over allowing three points the rest of the half.

"We're either right on point, we do everything right or we get a little bit off kilter and lose our composure a little bit," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "Once we got into our rhythm and our tempo, we just played good basketball."

California 65, Georgia 62 (OT) • Layshia Clarendon scored 17 of her 25 points in the second half and overtime, and California rallied from down 10 with less than 7 minutes left in regulation to beat Georgia in the Spokane (Wash.) Regional final and advance to the Final Four for the first time in school history.

Clarendon and the second-seeded Golden Bears became the first team from the western U.S. other than Stanford to reach the Final Four since Long Beach State in 1988. They did it with a gritty rally down the stretch and big shots by Clarendon, Afure Jemerigbe and Talia Caldwell.

Jemerigbe finished with 14 points and Caldwell added 10.