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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, March 27, 2006

Connecticut holds off Georgia, 77-75

Associated Press

Duke coach Gail Goestenkors said the depth of her team was key in the Blue Devils' 86-61 victory over Michigan State.

ELISE AMENDOLA | Associated Press

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Connecticut's season was down to its last play and it broke down.

Fortunately for the Huskies, Barbara Turner can improvise.

The Connecticut senior hit a fadeaway 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds left and two defenders on her to give the second-seeded Huskies a 77-75 win last night over Georgia in the Bridgeport (Conn.) Regional semifinal.

"It was a zone and it kind of broke down to a man-to-man," Turner said. "I noticed the defense was kind of shifted towards the other end of the court and I called for the ball and took the shot."

UConn will play top-seeded Duke in the regional final tomorrow night.

Turner had a career-high 31 points and nine rebounds to help the Huskies (32-4) rally from 15 points down. With the victory, the five-time national champs pushed their NCAA winning streak in the state of Connecticut to 29 games.

Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma watched the final play unfold in a stunned silence.

"I told the guys in the locker room, there are times that if you are lucky, fate taps you on the shoulder and you are ready. And today, we were ready," he said.

Tasha Humphrey led Georgia (23-9) with 27 points, but picked up her fourth foul with 8:45 to play. In the closing minutes, Turner drove inside and scored six points on Humphrey. Turner's layup with 1:42 left gave UConn a 71-68 lead.

Cori Chambers tied it for the Lady Bulldogs with a 3-pointer on Georgia's next possession. Sherill Baker then gave the Lady Bulldogs their first lead of the half, making the second of two free throws to make it 72-71.

Ann Strother countered with a 3-pointer for UConn and the lead swung back the Huskies' way. But it didn't last long. With defenders looking inside for Humphrey, Chambers hit again from 3-point range with 20.3 seconds left to silence the partisan UConn crowd of 9,091.

After a UConn timeout, Turner got the ball on the right wing and, unable to drive inside with two defenders blocking her way, she fired up the winner.

"Never in my basketball career have I had the opportunity that I just had with the ball in my hands, with the game on the line and to be able to make the shot," Turner said. "There is no better feeling in the world."

Georgia had one more shot. Humphrey fired the ball the length of the court and it bounced off the front of the rim as time expired.


Duke has one of the deepest benches in the country.

That depth helped the Blue Devils wear down Michigan State in a victory last night.

"I think it's quality depth," Duke coach Gail Goestenkors said of her bench which scored 32 points. "A lot of teams have a lot of players, but our bench is productive, probably as productive as any team in the country."

Monique Currie scored 17 points and center Alison Bales dominated inside to get top-seeded Duke (29-3) to its sixth regional final.

Abby Waner led the Duke reserves with 14 points that included a momentum-killing 3-pointer in the first half.

"One of our biggest strengths is we like to run and press," Waner said. "That comes from our depth, that wears people out. I think that's really evident toward the end of the game when are still running the floor."

The Spartans, last year's NCAA runner-up, finished 24-10.