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College basketball

Villanova stuns UConn

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 12, 2003

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- As the longest winning streak in women's Division I history ended, the man who coached it found something good to say.

Many of his players were in tears after top-ranked Connecticut's 70-game streak was snapped Tuesday night by Villanova, but Geno Auriemma wasn't crushed.

"Maybe this is the best thing that could happen to us," he said after No.18 Villanova won the Big East Conference tournament final 52-48. "We never said we were the best team in America. We'll find out a lot about Connecticut."

The Huskies found out just how hard it is to go undefeated in consecutive seasons.

Villanova handed Connecticut its first loss since the end of the 2001 season thanks to a 17-2 run in the second half.

Trish Juhline scored 18 and Nicole Druckenmiller 11 in the decisive run that knocked Connecticut (31-1) from the unbeaten ranks.

The loss also left Connecticut 18 wins shy of record 88-game streak set that UCLA's men set from 1971-74.

"There was no rhythm," said Diana Taurasi, who finished with 13 points on a night the Huskies went 17-for-56 from the field.

As the game ended, Connecticut players calmly filed toward their wildly celebrating opponents to shake hands. It took a few moments before the Huskies fully realized what had happened, then several of them burst out in tears.

Villanova rallied from a nine-point second-half deficit to stun the defending national champions, and Druckenmiller turned the tide. She came off the bench after a timeout and quickly hit a 3-pointer to cut UConn's lead to 36-30.

Later, after a turnover by Barbara Turner, Courtney Mix scored on a drive and converted the free throw for a 38-36 lead with 4:33 to go. Druckenmiller then hit two free throws for a 40-36 lead. Juhline followed with an off-balance jumper and UConn never led again.

Villanova coach Harry Perretta said don't count out Connecticut in the NCAA Tournament.

"If I was 70-1, I wouldn't think there was much of a problem," Perretta said. "You're right, sometimes people overreact. I heard people say, 'What's wrong with them?' There is nothing wrong with them. ... I would like to win 70 in a row."

MID-CONTINENT: Katie Boone made two free throws with 7.5 seconds left to give Valparaiso a 48-46 win over Oakland (Mich.) in the championship game in Kansas City, Mo. It clinched Valparaiso's first NCAA bid in 33 years.

SUN BELT: Shala Reece scored six of her 15 in the final four minutes as host Western Kentucky held off Middle Tennessee 86-83 to win the tournament title in Bowling Green, Ky. Patrice Holmes' 3-point try with four seconds left was partly blocked by WKU's Tiffany Porter-Talbert.

ACC: Gail Goestenkors, who coached Duke to a fourth straight league title Monday, was named coach of the year in media voting.

LOUISVILLE: Former Colorado State coach Tom Collen was hired as coach five days after Martin Clapp resigned.

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