TRENTON, N.J. – Arizona State finally faced an obstacle it couldn’t overcome.
The surprising Sun Devils knocked off third-seeded Georgia and second-seeded Texas A&M without top-scorer Dymond Simon in the NCAA tournament to reach the Trenton Regional final.
But Arizona State couldn’t handle mighty Connecticut, and the Sun Devils’ bid for their first trip to the Final Four ended with an 83-64 loss to the top-ranked Huskies on Tuesday night.
“It’s obviously very disappointing,” said coach Charlie Turner Thorne, who became the third Pac-10 coach to lead her team to five consecutive 20-win campaigns. “There was a lot of talk about Dymond getting hurt, but you have to give credit to these seniors. They truly led this team to a great season. I think it’s great for Arizona State women’s basketball for us in three years to be in the Elite Eight twice.”
Simon suffered a season-ending knee injury in early March.
Danielle Orsillo scored 18 points against Connecticut to lead Arizona State (26-9), which along with Purdue became the first sixth seeds since 2004 to advance to a regional final.
But the Sun Devils were no match for the Huskies inside, getting outrebounded 45-19 and outscored 44-20 in the paint.
“We talked about in order to win this game we needed to rebound and we just didn’t do that,” Orsillo said. “We didn’t defend in transition and we didn’t rebound.”
Arizona State kept it close in the first half, nearly taking the lead twice with 7 minutes to play. But the Sun Devils couldn’t capitalize when Huskies guard Renee Montgomery picked up her third foul with six minutes to play in the half.
The Sun Devils’ playmaker, Briann January, also went to the bench with her third foul less than a minute later.
Arizona State was outscored 10-5 the rest of the half, and went into intermission trailing 37-28.
The Huskies hardly had an anxious moment in the second half, as they shot 59 percent from the floor and never allowed Arizona State within single digits over the final 10 minutes.
January, who finished with 12 points, earned a spot on the all-regional team after averaging 13.6 points in five NCAA tournament games.
“We definitely had to face some obstacles this year,” said January, a Lewis and Clark High grad. “That’s one great thing we can take from this season, just how we stuck together and overcame the adversity we did.”
Meanwhile, the Connecticut express is headed to St. Louis for the Final Four, a trip the perfect Huskies have seemed destined to make all season.
Maya Moore scored 25 points for UConn, which advances to the national semifinals for the second straight season and ninth time in the last 14 years.
Renee Montgomery added 22 points for the Huskies (37-0), who will face Stanford on Sunday in a rematch of last season’s national semifinal. The Cardinal won that game before losing in the championship to Tennessee.
“I said last year we’d be back,” Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said. “We are going back and it’s ironic that we’re playing the same team. We’re pretty excited right now. It’s good, it’s all good.”
UConn hasn’t lost since falling to Stanford and is two wins away from the program’s third perfect season.
“They look like as a good team as last year,” Auriemma said.
Click here to comment on this story »