One more home victory, and Tennessee will have to pack its bags for the first time in this NCAA tournament.
The top-seeded Lady Vols (31-4) advanced to their 18th regional final in 22 tries by easily beating Penn State, 86-58, Saturday at Knoxville in the Mideast Regional semifinal. They will play host to second-seeded Villanova on Monday. The Wildcats advanced by beating Colorado, 53-51, in the other semifinal.
Tennessee, trying to reach the Final Four for the 14th time, improved its record in NCAA tournament home games to 43-0. The Lady Vols played host to first- and second-round games before getting the regional semifinal and championship in Knoxville.
The fourth-seeded Nittany Lions (26-9), who won their early-round games by an average of 20.5 points, were overwhelmed by Tennessee’s strong defense and dominant rebounding, which led to many easy transition baskets. The Lady Vols had a 53-21 rebounding advantage.
Penn State cut the lead to 10 points with 13:49 remaining after Jess Strom stole the ball from Kara Lawson and scored.
But Tennessee responded with a 17-2 run to increase its lead to 25 points.
Villanova 53, Colorado 51 -- Katie Davis made her fifth three-point basket with 4:18 left to give the second-seeded Wildcats (28-5) their first lead as they rallied to beat the sixth-seeded Buffaloes.
Colorado (24-8) had several opportunities to reach its fourth regional final in 11 tournaments. Tera Bjorklund scored a game-high 29 points, but missed five consecutive shots in the final minutes.
Her worst miss came as she threw up a shot under pressure that hit the bottom of the backboard with a minute left and Villanova leading, 50-49.
Bjorklund scored with 7.5 seconds left to pull Colorado to within 52-51, but Davis made the first of two free throws for the final margin.
Duke 66, Georgia 63 -- Freshman Mistie Bass scored 10 consecutive points to spark a second-half run for the top-seeded Blue Devils at Albuquerque.
Duke (34-1), which extended its winning streak to 14 games, will meet Texas Tech in the regional final Monday for a chance to go to the Final Four.
Marquita Driskell scored 16 points to lead the fifth-seeded Bulldogs (21-10), who suited up only eight players. Christi Thomas had 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Texas Tech 71, New Mexico 48 -- The second-seeded Red Raiders (29-5) used an 18-0 run late in the first half to take control.
Texas Tech held the sixth-seeded Lobos (24-9) scoreless over the final 7:43 of the half. The Lobos missed 11 shots and had four turnovers in that span.
New Mexico used its home-court advantage and raucous fans to help beat Miami and Mississippi State in the first two rounds. But Texas Tech took the sellout crowd of 16,182 and the Lobos out early.