Bales' inside play gets Duke past UConn

Associated Press
Published March 29, 2006

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - Alison Bales and Duke survived the NCAA Tournament's toughest stop along the road to the Final Four.

Bales dominated inside with 15 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks to lead the top-seeded Blue Devils to their fourth Final Four with a 63-61 overtime win Tuesday night over Connecticut.

The win snapped the Huskies' 29-game NCAA win streak in the state of Connecticut and was the first meeting between the two teams in the NCAA Tournament. The overall series is tied at 3, with UConn also losing a rare home game to the Blue Devils in 2004 on Jessica Foley's 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Duke (30-3) joins North Carolina and Maryland to give the ACC three Final Four teams, the first time one league has had three-fourths of the national semifinals.

"The years we went to the Final Four in the past we were very guard oriented," Duke coach Gail Goestenkors said before the game. "When our guards weren't hitting, people were able to shut us down, so we made a concerted effort to get our posts involved."

UConn's Mel Thomas sent the game into overtime with a jumper with 20.7 left in regulation to tie it at 55-all.

The teams traded field goals in the first minute of overtime and then Bales put Duke ahead for good with a pair of free throws. She came right back with a block on a driving Renee Montgomery.

Monique Curry hit all four of her free throws down the stretch and the Blue Devils held on.

Barbara Turner led second-seeded UConn (32-5) with 19 points and 12 rebounds but could only watch from the bench in the closing minutes when leg cramps forced her out of the game.

It was Turner that got UConn to the regional final with a fallaway 3-pointer at the buzzer in the semifinal over Georgia on Sunday.

Willnett Crockett and Montgomery finished with 15 points for UConn.

Currie finished with 14 points and nine rebounds.

OHIO STATE: Guard Brandie Hoskins, who ruptured her Achilles' tendon in the NCAA Tournament, had successful surgery.

The junior was injured late in the top-seeded Buckeyes' 79-69 loss to Boston College in the second round March 21.

"The doctor was pleased with everything," coach Jim Foster said Tuesday, adding that the time frame for recovery varies widely.

"Brandie will work very hard within the framework of getting back. For some people it takes a short period of time and for others it takes a long period of time," said Foster, whose team went 29-3 and won the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles with Hoskins in the starting lineup.

Hoskins, who has started 84 consecutive games for the Buckeyes, is a two-time All-Big Ten honoree and was named the most outstanding player at the Big Ten tournament this month. She averaged 15 points as Ohio State won its first conference tournament title.

Hoskins averaged 12.3 points per game and ranked second on the team with 96 assists this season for the Buckeyes.