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Washington Is Biggest of NCAA Surprises

March 26, 2001|From Associated Press

Xavier is making waves in the NCAA women's basketball tournament by relying on all of its players. Southwest Missouri State is relying on one.

And Washington? Few thought the Huskies had much of anything to rely on.

All three have been postseason surprises. None is seeded higher than fourth, yet each is one victory from the Final Four tonight, when all the women's regional finals are played.

"That's our team. They're resilient. They bounce back," Washington Coach June Daugherty said. "They're great about learning things and putting them behind them and not dwelling on the negatives."

There have been plenty of negatives in Washington's past. Like last season's 8-22 record. Or that 46-point loss to Connecticut in the home opener. Or the losses in the final two regular-season games--against USC and UCLA--that cost Washington the Pacific 10 Conference title outright.

Somehow the No. 6-seeded Huskies (22-9) got through it. They'll face No. 5-seeded Southwest Missouri State (28-5) and the scoring machine known as Jackie Stiles in the West Regional final at Spokane, Wash.

Stiles scored 41 Saturday when her team ousted Duke, the second No. 1-seeded team eliminated from the women's tournament. Xavier upset the other, beating Tennessee in the Mideast Regional.

The No. 4-seeded Musketeers (31-2) play No. 3 Purdue (29-6), the 1999 national champion. Xavier will take a 21-game winning streak, the nation's longest, and tremendous balance against Purdue, which will have its starting point guard Erika Valek out because of a knee ligament tear.

The two other regionals are left with more traditional names.

Defending national champion Connecticut (31-2), seeded No. 1, plays No. 3 Louisiana Tech (31-4) in the East Regional final at Pittsburgh. It will be the 16th regional final for Louisiana Tech and the seventh in 11 years for Connecticut. Yet the two teams have never met in the tournament.

Top-seeded Notre Dame (31-2) plays No. 3 Vanderbilt (24-9) for the Midwest title at Denver. Each has one Final Four appearance.

Vanderbilt is the only regional finalist remaining from the Southeastern Conference, which has landed a representative in the Final Four every year except 1992.


Jamie Lewis had 20 points and 17 assists Sunday, leading Ohio State (21-11) past James Madison (23-10), 74-65, at Columbus, Ohio, for a spot in the final of the Women's NIT. Ohio State will face New Mexico for the championship on Tuesday or Wednesday at a site to be determined.

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