UConn's Sales calls coverage of gift basket 'out of hand' But All-American says she's over controversy

Women's Final Four notebook

March 27, 1998|By Christian Ewell and Milton Kent | Christian Ewell and Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Connecticut guard Nykesha Sales, speaking publicly yesterday for the first time since the controversy over her breaking the school's scoring record last month, said she was "amazed" at the amount of attention the matter had received.

"It all just got a little out of hand. It was just something we did for Connecticut," Sales said after being named to the Kodak All-America team yesterday. "I even heard it about it on the Miss USA Pageant."

Sales, a 6-foot senior, ruptured her Achilles' tendon late in the season, finishing two points shy of the career scoring record. Her coach, Geno Auriemma, arranged with Villanova coach Harry Perretta for Sales to score an uncontested layup at the beginning of the next game, touching off a furor over whether the act compromised the integrity of the game.

Sales said the resulting controversy had "helped me deal with adversity" and added that while she had been upset at first with all the coverage, she got over it, thanks to Auriemma and her parents.

"They tried to keep me away from the negativity. The sad part is that a lot of the people who were criticizing probably never watched women's basketball," Sales said.

Wolfpack bounces back

Maryland lost out on an NCAA tournament spot this season, but the Terps helped send a team to the Final Four, anyway.

That team would be North Carolina State, for whom a 61-48 Atlantic Coast Conference tournament loss to the Terps was nearly cathartic.

"The Maryland loss was very devastating for me, personally," N.C. State freshman Tynesha Lewis said. "I have to say, it was the worst loss in my short career in college, in high school and AAU.

The loss could have had dire consequences, mostly because it could have cost the Wolfpack a top-four seed in the East Regional, which would have required the team to play road games in the first two rounds.

But N.C. State got a a No. 4 seed and redeemed itself by beating Maine and Youngstown State, then clearing the higher hurdles of Old Dominion and Connecticut to get to the Final Four for the first time in Kay Yow's 23 years as coach.

"We found out that we definitely need each other, just play as a team," Lewis said.

Yow said her team's ACC pedigree was a big help, too.

"There's a number of things we faced in the sub-regional and East Regional [semifinals and final] that we really felt the ACC had prepared us for," Yow said.

Awards time

Tennessee junior forward Chamique Holdsclaw led the 10-player Kodak All-America list.

Holdsclaw, one of 11 players to be named three times to the Kodak squad, was joined by teammate Tamika Catchings, a freshman forward, and two-time winners Sales, Old Dominion guard Ticha Penicheiro and North Carolina forward Tracy Reid, all seniors.

In addition, Harvard senior forward Allison Feaster, Stanford junior forward Kristin Folkl, N.C. State senior forward Chasity Melvin, Florida senior center Murriel Page and Texas Tech senior center Alicia Thompson were selected to the Kodak team, the most prestigious of the women's All-America teams.

Holdsclaw was selected Associated Press Player of the Year, and her coach, Pat Summitt, was chosen Coach of the Year.

Pub Date: 3/27/98

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