There was nothing wrong with Notre Dame's start Saturday. But its inability to hold a lead is sending it home and Texas Tech to the Mideast Regional final.
After jumping out to a 17-0 lead and holding the Lady Raiders scoreless for nearly seven minutes, the second-seeded Irish gave up the next 17 points and eventually fell, 69-65, at Memphis, Tenn.
"I don't know if I've ever been in one that had that big a point swing, particularly not at this level," Texas Tech Coach Marsha Sharp said. "You don't expect to have that many swings with that large a deficit."
It helped that the third-seeded Lady Raiders (28-4) fell behind 11-2 in their second-round game against Tulane before pulling out a victory last weekend. Melinda Schmucker-Pharies said they never panicked.
"We knew that no matter what, 17 down, we still had the whole game ahead of us. We just had to come out and battle no matter what," she said.
Notre Dame dropped to 27-5.
Tennessee 77, Virginia 56--Tamika Catchings scored 28 points as top-seeded Tennessee won its 18th consecutive game, routing Virginia in the other Mideast Regional semifinal at Memphis.
The victory puts the Lady Vols (31-3) into their sixth consecutive regional championship and 16th in 19 years.
Catchings scored the first six points, and Tennessee quickly built its lead to 18 as Virginia (25-9), which averaged 17.3 turnovers a game, had that many in the first half. Virginia finished with a season-high 27 turnovers compared to only 13 for Tennessee.
Virginia, trying to reach its first regional final since 1996, did make it close, getting to within 45-42. But Tennessee responded with a 20-3 run to put it away.
Connecticut 102, Oklahoma 80--The top-ranked Huskies, shocked in the the regional semifinals by Iowa State a year ago, forced 20 first-half turnovers and used an early 18-0 run to take control and defeat the fifth-seeded Sooners in the semifinals of the East Regional at Richmond, Va.
Oklahoma (25-8), which lost, 84-68, to the Huskies on Dec. 29 in Norman, Okla., and played them even in the second half, had similar trouble this time. The Sooners trailed, 57-42, at the half and merely kept it from getting really lopsided thereafter.
Asjha Jones and Tamika Williams led Connecticut (33-1) with 16 points apiece.
Louisiana State 79, Duke 66--Marie Ferdinand had 22 points, eight assists and made several big plays as the Tigers defeated the Blue Devils in the other East Regional semifinal at Richmond.
Ferdinand sparked the go-ahead rally for the third-seeded Lady Tigers (25-6) with about 13 minutes to play, then countered late Duke baskets with a 14-foot jumper and a driving layup, keeping LSU comfortably ahead down the stretch.
Duke (28-6) was led by Lauren Rice with 17 points and Georgia Schweitzer with 14.
Louisiana Tech 86, Old Dominion 74--Despite missing nine of her first 10 shots, Betty Lennox scored 25 points to lead the top-seeded Lady Techsters past the Monarchs in a Midwest Regional semifinal at Kansas City, Mo.
Lennox, cheered on by family members from nearby Independence, kept firing away despite her early misses and eventually helped the Techsters (31-2) break it open midway through the second half.
Tech went ahead to stay late in the first half, then, after Old Dominion (29-5) pulled to 52-46 with 14:43 left, went on a 14-4 run to put it away.
Penn State 66, Iowa St. 65--Helen Darling scored with 12.6 seconds left to lift the Lady Lions to a victory over the Cyclones in the other Midwest Regional semifinal at Kansas City.
Second-seeded Penn State (29-4) recovered just in time after a blowing a 12-point lead to make its first appearance in the final eight since 1994. The Lions have never been to the Final Four.
With third-seeded Iowa State (27-6) leading with 27.8 seconds left, Penn State's Andrea Garner missed a jump shot from the left baseline. Megan Taylor seemed to have the rebound for Iowa State, but Darling, who scored 21 points, stripped her of the ball and her shot bounced up off the front of the rim and rolled back in.
Taylor missed a running jumper from just inside the free-throw line at the buzzer.
Georgia 83, North Carolina 57--Tawana McDonald had 18 points and Coco Miller had 17 as the top-seeded Bulldogs dominated inside to defeat the fifth-seeded Tar Heels in a West Regional semifinal at Portland, Ore.
Shala Crawford had 16 points and Deana Nolan added 13 for the Bulldogs (32-3), who are one victory away from their fourth Final Four appearance in six years.
Juana Brown had 19 points and Jackie Higgins 14 to lead the fifth-seeded Tar Heels (20-13), who had won eight of nine.
The Tar Heels had no one to stop McDonald and Crawford, both 6-foot-4. North Carolina has only one player taller than 6-1, 6-5 LaShonda Allen, a sophomore who was overmatched inside.