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No. 1 Connecticut Answers Another Tough Test From No. 2 Tennessee

Associated Press

With leading scorer Svetlana Abrosimova ailing from a bad back, top-ranked Connecticut leaned on a reliable veteran and a rookie to hold off No. 2 Tennessee, 81-76, Saturday in a rematch of last season’s NCAA title game at Hartford, Conn.

Shea Ralph, the Final Four most valuable player, had 15 points and two key steals in a 19-2 first-half run that gave the Huskies (9-0) the cushion they would ultimately need. Ralph also had five rebounds.

Diana Taurasi, last year’s high school player of the year at Chino Don Lugo, contributed 12 points that included a key three-pointer with five minutes left to hold Tennessee at bay.

The tussle of the two top teams in women’s basketball lived up to its billing, as the Volunteers (11-1) rallied from a 17-point deficit in the first half and were a three-pointer away from drawing even in the last minute.

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“It was one of those games where I never felt we were in the clear,” Connecticut Coach Geno Auriemma said. “I thought they would come down and make a couple shots to get it right back.”

Tennessee battled back with strong inside play and timely shooting from Tamika Catchings and Semeka Randall. Catchings’ three-pointer with 5:27 remaining cut the lead to 69-67, the closest the Volunteers would get.

Even timelier were four free throws by Connecticut guard Sue Bird in the final 35 seconds to ice the game.

No. 6 Duke 81, No. 5 Iowa State 63--Alana Beard scored 27 points, including eight in the final six minutes, as the Blue Devils pulled away in the final minutes to beat the Cyclones at Durham, N.C.

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Georgia Schweitzer scored 13 of her 17 points in the second half and Iciss Tillis added 14 points as Duke (12-1) won its third straight game since a 93-75 loss at Clemson on Dec. 9.

No. 8 Purdue 65, Michigan 54--Katie Douglas scored 13 points and Camille Cooper added 12 at Ann Arbor, Mich., to lead the Boilermakers (12-3, 2-0 in the Big Ten Conference) for its fourth win in a row. Michigan is 8-4 and 1-1.

Santa Clara 61, No. 10 Texas Tech 56--Becki Ashbaugh hit a three-pointer with 58 seconds left as the Broncos got their first win over a top 10 team in six years at Santa Clara. The last time Santa Clara (8-3) beat a top 10 team was Dec. 19, 1994, against No. 10 Washington.

Florida State 74, No. 12 North Carolina State 70--April Traylor scored 22 points and sparked a second-half rally for the Seminoles (9-2), who upset the Wolfpack (9-2) in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener at Tallahassee, Fla.

No. 13 Louisiana State 82, North Texas 57--Marie Ferdinand scored 19 points and Roneeka Hodges added 12 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Tigers (9-3) to an easy victory over North Texas (9-3) at Baton Rouge, La.

Illinois 73, No. 14 Auburn 56--Freshman Iveta Marcauskaite had a career-high 24 points and nine rebounds and the Fighting Illini (5-7) snapped the Tigers’ 55-game home winning streak over non-conference opponents at Auburn, Ala. The Tigers fell to 12-2.

No. 16 Southwest Missouri State 84, Creighton 59--Jackie Stiles scored 20 points as Southwest Missouri State (7-2) beat the Bluejays (6-4) in the Missouri Valley Conference opener for both teams at Omaha.

No. 17 Stanford 72, No. 23 Utah 58--Freshman Nicole Powell had nine assists and nine rebounds to go with 11 points in her first game at point guard as she led the Cardinal (6-4) to a win at Palo Alto. Powell became Stanford’s third starting point guard of the season after a right knee injury sidelined freshman Susan King for the rest of the season.

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No. 20 Clemson 79, Winthrop 46--Chrissy Floyd scored a career-high 24 points and combined with Krystal Scott in the first half to dispatch Winthrop at Rock Hill, S.C. Floyd and Scott scored 26 of Clemson’s 37 first-half points.

No. 25 Oregon 92, San Francisco 65--Angelina Wolvert scored 21 points in the Ducks’ win at Eugene, Ore. Kourtney Shreve added 15 points for the Ducks (4-4).


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