There was no controversial finish for Alabama this time and there will be no Final Four repeat for Old Dominion. Louisiana Tech took care of that first matter, North Carolina State the second.
And how about Connecticut? The more the Huskies play without Nykesha Sales, the better they get.
Old Dominion became the third No. 1 seed knocked out of the NCAA women’s tournament, losing to fourth-seeded North Carolina State 55-54 Saturday in the East Regional semifinals at Dayton, Ohio.
“It feels great,” exclaimed North Carolina State coach Kay Yow, who won for the first time in nine tries in the round of 16. “Our team just played jthe way they can play. They played hard. Words cannot express what it means and how it feels.”
North Carolina State (24-6) moved into Monday’s regional final against second-seeded Connecticut (34-2), which got another big game from center Paige Sauer in defeating Arizona 74-57.
Louisiana Tech left nothing to chance at the end against Alabama, defeating the Tide 71-57 in the Midwest Regional at Lubbock, Texas. Tech (29-3), a two-time NCAA champion seeking a ninth Final Four trip, will play Purdue (23-9) on Monday night for the right to advance to the national semifinals in Kansas City.
Purdue came from 16 points down to defeat Notre Dame 70-65, eliminating another member of last year’s Final Four.
Old Dominion (29-3) had lost only to Connecticut and Tennessee during the regular season. But the Monarchs couldn’t overcome a 7-minute scoring drought in the second half and had no answer inside for North Carolina State’s Summer Erb, who led all scorers with 17 points.
Old Dominion followed No. 1 seeds Stanford (West) and Texas Tech (Mid-west) to the sidelines. It’s the first time in the 17 years of the NCAA women’s tournament that fewer than two No. 1 seeds have reached the regional finals.
Alabama had advanced to its meeting with Tech by defeating UCLA 75-74 on a last-second shot that was preceded by an officiating error and questionable time-keeping. It wasn’t close at the end Saturday because Louisiana Tech pulled away by the time ‘Bama threatened.
North Carolina St. 55, Old Dominion 54
Erb came through with 35 strong minutes, double her usual playing time, after season scoring leader Chasity Melvin was benched by foul problems. A 12-0 run led by Erb and freshman guard Tynesha Lewis erased a 45-39 Old Dominion lead and put the Wolfpack ahead to stay.
Two-time All-American Ticha Penicheiro, playing her final college game, led Old Dominion with 14 points.
Connecticut 74, Arizona 57
Connecticut improved to 6-0 since losing Sales, a first-team All-American, to a ruptured Achilles’ tendon. Sauer has been especially effective during that time and came up with 23 points and 15 rebounds as UConn pulled away in the second half against its most challenging opponent in the tournament so far.
The Huskies’ 51-33 rebounding advantage kept Arizona (23-7) out of its transition game. Lisa Griffith hit six 3-pointers and led Arizona with 21 points.
Louisiana Tech 71, Alabama 57
Outstanding balance and sticky defense carried Louisiana Tech, which held Alabama to 37 percent shooting. Monica Maxwell led five players in double figures with 15 points, while Alisa Burras had 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Tausha Mills and Dominique Canty led Alabama (24-10) with 17 points each. But Canty missed 16 of 24 shots and Mills fouled out after committing three fouls in 29 seconds.
Purdue 70, Notre Dame 65
Purdue stormed back after trailing 56-40 with 13:17 left. A 20-5 run got the Boilermakers to within a point and Ukari Figgs’ jumper moments later gave them their first lead, 62-61. Purdue then finished off the Irish (22-10) by making 8 of 12 free throws.
Stephanie White led Purdue with 23 points. Sheila McMillen scored 22 for Notre Dame, which couldn’t hold on after 6-foot-5 Ruth Riley went to the bench with her fourth foul. Riley fouled out shortly after she returned.
St. George’s graduate Kari Hutchinson had one basket for two points for Notre Dame.
Duke 71, Florida 58
Nicole Erickson scored 20 points and Duke held off a late charge by Florida to defeat the Gators in Oakland, Calif.
The victory sends Duke against the winner of Saturday’s late game between Arkansas and Kansas in the regional final on Monday night.
Florida came within 52-48 with 5:39 to go in the game, but Duke’s Lauren Rice responded with a layup and a free throw to put the Blue Devils (24-7) back in control.
Tonya Washington had 14 points and five rebounds for third-seeded Florida (23-9).