Women' s Sweet 16

March 23, 2002|By Hartford Courant

East Regional

No. 1 Duke (29-3) vs. No. 4 Texas (22-9)

How they got here: Duke defeated No. 16 Norfolk State, 95-48, in first round, No. 8 Texas Christian University, 76-66, in second round. Texas defeated No. 13 Wisconsin-Green Bay, 60-55, in first round, No. 12 UC Santa Barbara, 76-60, in second round.

Breaking it down: All-American Alana Beard, a sophomore guard, continues to be Duke's leader, getting 24 points and 11 rebounds in a hard-earned victory over TCU. Monique Currie had 20 points as the Blue Devils used pressure defense to win their 20th in a row and reach the Sweet 16 for a fifth consecutive year. Texas also won a sub-regional at home to make Jody Conradt, the winningest coach in Division I women's basketball by two over Tennessee's Pat Summitt, to the round of 16 for the first time since 1990.

Projection: Both teams are young, but Duke has Beard, and that should get the Blue Devils to the Final Four.

No. 3 South Carolina (24-6) vs. No. 7 Drake (25-7)

How they got here: South Carolina defeated No. 14 Liberty, 69-61, in first round, No. 6 Cincinnati, 75-56, in second round. Drake defeated No. 10 Syracuse, 87-69, in the first round, No. 2 Baylor, 76-72, in second round.

Breaking it down: South Carolina made a major turnaround under Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year Sue Walvius after going 11-17 last season. Jocelyn Penn, Shaun Gortman and Tennessee transfer Teresa Geter are chief threats for the Lady Gamecocks, who had a 25-0 run in the second half against Cincinnati to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1990. Drake is one of only three visiting teams to reach the regionals after it shocked Baylor in Waco, Texas. Carla Bennett had 29 points for the Bulldogs, but Stephanie Schmitz was the major reason for the upset, hitting a three-pointer with 1:15 left, then making two free throws with seven seconds to go.

Projection: A tossup between upstart programs, with the Southern hospitality of Raleigh possibly swinging matters in the Lady Gamecocks' favor.

Mideast Regional

No. 1 UConn (35-0) vs. No. 4 Penn State (23-11)

How they got here: UConn defeated No. 16 St. Francis, Pa., 86-37, in first round, No. 9 Iowa, 86-48, in second round. Penn State defeated No. 13 Chattanooga, 82-67, in first round, No. 5 Florida International, 96-79, in second round.

Breaking it down: UConn had an early challenge from Iowa, then steamrolled the Hawkeyes as they have most every opponent in their quest for a third national title and second undefeated season in seven years. Big East and Naismith Player of the Year Sue Bird directs a balanced attack that includes fellow seniors Swin Cash, Asjha Jones and Tamika Williams and sophomore Diana Taurasi, and has gotten the Huskies to their eighth consecutive Sweet 16. Penn State's three-point specialist Kelly Mazzante, like Taurasi, is a sophomore and the nation's leading scorer (25.2 points a game).

Projection: This is a rematch of the 2000 Final Four semifinals, which the Huskies won, 89-67, on the way to a second national title. Like Taurasi, Mazzante has almost unlimited range, but the Huskies are usually good at holding the opposition's best player in check. Mazzante will probably get her points, but the result will be the same as two years ago.

No. 3 Kansas State (26-7) vs. No. 7 Old Dominion (27-5)

How they got here: Kansas State defeated No. 14 Kent State, 93-65, in first round, No. 6 Arkansas, 82-68, in second round. Old Dominion defeated No. 10 Georgia, 68-54, in first round, No. 2 Purdue, 74-70, in overtime in second round.

Breaking it down: Guard Laurie Koehn scored 25 points in the victory over Arkansas as Kansas State continued one of the great turnarounds in women's basketball history after going 12-16 last season. Center Nicole Ohlde and freshman forward Kendra Wecker are other standouts for a Wildcats team making its first Sweet 16 appearance in 20 years. Old Dominion was another team to win a sub-regional on the road, ending 2001 national runner-up Purdue's 26-game home winning streak.

Projection: If Lucienne Berthieu can stay out of foul trouble and NCAA-tested Lady Monarchs play under control, they should win their 21st in a row.

Midwest Regional

No. 1 Vanderbilt (29-6) vs. No. 4 North Carolina (26-8)

How they got there: Vanderbilt defeated No. 16 Oakland, Mich., 63-38, in first round, No. 9 Arizona State, 61-35, in second round; North Carolina defeated No. 13 Harvard, 85-58, in first round, No. 5 Minnesota, 72-69, in second round.

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