Sunday, March 21, 1999

IOWA STATE 64, CONNECTICUT 58


12-point swing in last 5 minutes topples No. 1 seed

BY JOHN ERARDI
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        If a No. 4 seed can be a Cinderella — and why not? — then Iowa State is it, with a shocking upset of top-seeded Connecticut, 64-58, before 5,772 fans Saturday afternoon at UC's Shoemaker Center.

        UConn (29-5), the perennial beast of the East, will remember the semifinal of the Mid-East Regional of the NCAA Women's Basketball tournament like this: up 50-44 with 5:40 to go and with everybody in the arena but the red-and-gold faithful figuring it was over, the Huskies were deluged by a cloudburst of three-pointers that blew in from nowhere ... and from everywhere.

        Five three-pointers in the course of three minutes.

        Pennies from heaven? The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow being tipped over? Or simply the long-awaited rain to which Dust Bowlers raise their faces and let wash over them after a drought?

        A little bit of all three.

        “The Iowa State kids — God love 'em,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “For 35 minutes, we did exactly what we wanted to do to them. We got them to take the shots we wanted, found a defense that was really working for us. But they stayed with it, kept making the same cuts, taking the same shots and started knocking them down.”

        UConn couldn't hit shots to build its 46-39 lead at 11:20. The Huskies came up empty on five straight possessions and allowed Iowa State to cut it to 46-44. And when ISU's Monica Huelman hit a three at 5:20 to cut it to 50-47, the Huskies were ripe for the upset.

        UConn hit only 29.9 percent of its field-goal attempts.

        “As the (other team's shots) are going in, you can see the look on your kids' faces,” Auriemma said. “It's not one of those things where "you make, we'll make, we'll trade you.' When they keep making 'em, and you know you haven't made any and you know you've got to make some, that's when the look on your face is: "I don't know if we can do this.'”

        Iowa State point guard Stacy Frese, who was held to two points in the first half, finished with a game-high 16.

        “Coach always gives us the green light and tell us to keep shooting,” Frese said. “That's our game, shooting the three.”

        Auriemma said it was Frese who made the difference.

        “She made a couple of great plays at the end,” he said. “Some kids would have shot the three-pointer that we challenged, but she had the presence of mind to shot-fake, dribble and then make the shot.”

        Here's how the three minutes went after Huelman's trey at 5:20: another Huelman trey, Frese trey, Megan Taylor trey, Frese trey. Up 59-55 with 2:14 to go, there was no way Iowa State was going to blow this lead.

        “We remembered the Xavier (vs. UConn) game (of last Sunday),” said Taylor, referring to a furious Huskie comeback that put them in the Sweet 16. “But all of us thought we were going to hang onto the lead.”

        As Iowa State drained three after three, Auriemma could only smile and turn his back to the action on the far end of the court and walk back to the bench. He'd been on both ends of this scene.

        UConn's talented junior guard Shea Ralph, who had hit 47 percent of her three-pointers this year and was 61 percent on field goals overall, was only 2-of-12 from the field and 0-of-9 on three-pointers Saturday.

        “We had wide-open shots but we didn't hit them,” she said, shaking her head. “They were wide-open.

        “We've worked really hard as a team and individually to be here. This is a tournament you work for all year and all summer. It's a shock.'

        IOWA ST. (25-7) — Huelman 2-8 0-0 5, Taylor 3-10 4-4 13, Welle 3-6 4-6 10, Frese 6-13 2-4 16, Gahan 3-7 2-5 10, Haugen 1-4 0-0 2, Francis 3-11 2-2 8. Totals 21-59 14-21 64.

        CONNECTICUT (29-5) — Williams 6-9 2-3 14, Ralph 2-12 1-2 5, Jones 2-5 0-2 4, Glenney 2-4 0-0 5, Abrosimova 3-17 2-2 9, Duran 1-7 0-0 3, Cash 2-5 3-4 7, Sauer 0-0 0-0 0, Hansmeyer 2-6 7-9 11, Schumacher 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 20-67 15-22 58.

        Halftime—Iowa St. 28, Connecticut 28. 3-point goals—Iowa St. 8-26 (Taylor 3-6, Gahan 2-3, Frese 2-7, Huelman 1-4, Haugen 0-2, Francis 0-4), Connecticut 3-26 (Glenney 1-3, Duran 1-6, Abrosimova 1-8, Ralph 0-9). Fouled out—None. Rebounds—Iowa St. 44 (Gahan 9), Connecticut 48 (Abrosimova 12). Assists—Iowa St. 11 (Frese 5), Connecticut 14 (Ralph 5). Total fouls—Iowa St. 21, Connecticut 19. A—NA.

       



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