Saturday, March 13, 1999

XU WOMEN 85, FLA. INTERNATIONAL 71


First-ever tourney win nets date with UConn

BY DOM AMORE
Enquirer contributor

[hotz]
Xavier's Kim Hotz, right, and Taru Tuukanen battle FIU's Viktoria Nagy for a rebound.
(AP photo)

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        STORRS, Conn. — Her team had made history Friday night, but Xavier coach Melanie Balcomb allowed herself only a few seconds to savor it.

        “Their coach came up to me after the game and said, "Congratulations, you get to play Connecticut,'” Balcomb said, moments after Xavier got its first-ever Women's NCAA Tournament win, an 85-71 victory over Florida International in the first round of the Mideast Region.

        Balcomb responded: “Is THAT the prize?”

        Top-seeded UConn (28-4), which defeated St. Francis (Pa.) 97-46 earlier in the evening, will have home-court and a myriad of other advantages in the second-round game at 9 p.m. Sunday. The winner of that game advances to the Regional semifinals March 20 at Shoemaker Center.

[celebrate]
Players celebrate XU's first NCAA tourney win.
(AP photo)

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        “I told (the players), UConn is like any other team, they can be beaten,” Balcomb said. “I want them to enjoy this tonight, then tomorrow start dreaming about beating UConn, because that's what we're going to have to do.”

        Xavier (24-8), the eighth seed, trailed only once, 8-6 with 16:33 left in the first half. Nikki Kremer hit a three-pointer to start the Musketeers on an 11-0 run.

        Up 17-8, Xavier was never again in serious danger — FIU (23-7) never got closer than six points, and that was at 77-71 with 1:05 left in the game.

        “Xavier did a really, really nice job of controlling the tempo,” said FIU star Dalma Ivanyi, who scored 23 points. “They were so patient in executing their offense, and we were never in the game.”

        Balcomb determined that FIU would leave her post players open to try foul-line jumpers. After a week of practicing those shots, center Taru Tuukkanen and forwards Jennifer Phillips and Kim Hotz were ready.

        Tuukkanen scored 15 of her 19 points in the first half, and her efficiency at the jumper forced FIU to come out and cover her. That left open all sorts of options for Xavier in the second half. Guard Nicole Levandusky scored 23 points, Phillips 16 and Hotz 13.

        Xavier, having beaten top-10 ranked Virginia Tech twice this season and reached the Atlantic 10 Tournament final, has put itself in a higher echelon of the national scene. Now comes the challenge of the season.

        “We've got 20 wins,” Phillips said, “we've gotten to the tournament, and we've gotten a win. Now, we get to play UConn. It's a great feeling. We've just got to play defense, and remember the things that got us here.”

MARCH MADNESS PAGE


FLORIDA INTL (71)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Camps           35   1-9   0-0   1-3  5  5    3
Michalcova      37  6-16   4-5  7-12  2  4   16
Nagy            21   1-4   1-2   3-4  0  4    3
Ivanyi          34  7-22   8-8   2-6  4  4   23
Jenkins         13   1-4   0-0   0-0  0  1    2
Ciperova        15   2-5   0-0   0-0  0  0    4
Slavtcheva      17   4-9   0-1   2-4  2  1    9
James            6   2-3   0-0   0-0  0  1    5
Moody           22   3-5   0-0   4-5  0  3    6
_______________________________________________
TOTALS         200 27-77 13-16 19-34 13 23   71
_______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.351, FT-.813. 3-Point Goals: 4-19, .211 (Camps 1-2, Ivanyi 1-9, Jenkins 0-1, Ciperova 0-1, Slavtcheva 1-4, James 1-2). Team rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: None. Turnovers: 10 (Ivanyi 5, Nagy 3, Camps, Michalcova). Steals: 7 (Camps 2, Ivanyi, James, Michalcova, Moody, Nagy).

XAVIER (85) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Phillips 26 7-9 2-2 1-7 1 3 16 Hotz 31 4-7 5-6 0-4 1 2 13 Tuukkanen 26 8-10 2-2 1-2 2 1 19 Kremer 30 1-3 2-2 0-4 7 3 5 Levandusky 38 7-14 6-6 0-4 2 4 23 Stromberg 4 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0 Riley 10 0-1 0-0 1-1 0 0 0 Griggs 22 2-4 1-4 1-3 3 2 5 Parr 10 0-2 2-2 0-1 2 1 2 Senser 3 1-1 0-0 1-2 0 1 2 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 200 30-51 20-24 5-28 18 18 85 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.588, FT-.833. 3-Point Goals: 5-16, .313 (Tuukkanen 1-1, Kremer 1-3, Levandusky 3-9, Griggs 0-1, Parr 0-2). Team rebounds: 8. Blocked shots: 2 (Hotz, Tuukkanen). Turnovers: 16 (Parr 5, Hotz 3, Phillips 3, Kremer 2, Riley 2). Steals: 8 (Levandusky 6, Kremer 2). __________________________________ Florida Intl 34 37 - 71 Xavier 45 40 - 85 __________________________________ Technical fouls: None. A: 10,027. Officials: Dennis Mayer, Janice Aliberti, Mark Zentz.