American Athletic Conference semifinals: Connecticut and South Florida advance to title game
UNCASVILLE, Conn. – The American Athletic Conference semifinals produced no surprises, as the top two seeds, Connecticut and South Florida advanced to the finals, Monday night at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
Connecticut 106, East Carolina 56
Top-seeded and No. 1-ranked Connecticut had no trouble dispatching fifth seeded East Carolina in the first game, scoring on seven layups to start the game and running out to an impressive 62-22 half time lead.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis continued her sharp shooting hitting all seven of her shot attempts in the half before missing a shot at the first half buzzer. She finished with 21 for the game. Mosqueda-Lewis said the Huskies used the aggressive defense of East Carolina against them.
“When the defense is playing you that hard,” she said, “and they’re pressuring you, you want to make sure that you’re attacking them, and the guards on our team did a great job of making sure they were making penetration and finding the open man.”
One of those guards, Moriah Jefferson had 20 points, six assists and five steals to celebrate her 21st birthday. Forwards Breanna Stewart scored 16 and Morgan Tuck 15 for the Huskies.
East Carolina, a 20-win team hoping for a post-season bid, was led by I’Tania Taylor with 17 and Jada Payne with 15.
South Florida 78, Tulane 69
A second half flurry by first team All-Conference guard Courtney Williams and a late technical foul on Tulane coach Lisa Stockton helped second seeded South Florida edge sixth-seeded Tulane 78-69 in the night-cap to advance to the finals.
Tulane held Williams in check most of the game, but the guard went on a 7-0 run highlighted by a shot clock beating three pointer. For the second straight game the Bulls were led by junior forward Alisia Jenkins, who again had a double-double, with 22 points and 15 rebounds.
Several times South Florida threatened to blow the game open, but Tulane, fighting for their NCAA lives (ESPN’s Charlie Creme has them as one of the last teams in the NCAA tournament in his most recent bracket prediction), never backed down. Danielle Blagg led the team with 19 points including a couple of clutch three pointers, and Courtnie Latham added 15 for the Green Wave, who sit at 22-10 after this defeat.
Tulane coach Lisa Stockton feels her team deserves an at-large tourney berth.
“This is a good league,” Stockton explained, “and as far as being represented if you make your case I just don’t believe that another
conference, the SEC, the ACC should go over a team in our league when that team has outplayed them all year and I think this team really has.”