Tiffany Hayes shoots against the Hoyas in the schools' first meeting this season (AP)
March 27, 2011
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Maya Moore isn't expecting UConn's third meeting with Georgetown to be any different than the first two this season - a giant challenge.
The two BIG EAST teams are playing for the third time in 30 days Sunday in the regional semifinals. The winner will face either DePaul or Duke in the Philadelphia championship game on Tuesday with a trip to the Final Four at stake.
"I think it's harder, the more familiar you are with each other. It's like fighting your brother or sister," Moore said. "You know all their tricks and they know all your tricks. You just have to have a drag out. It's who can be tougher for forty minutes."
Moore struggled in the last meeting, scoring a season-low six points in UConn's 59-43 victory in the BIG EAST Conference tournament quarterfinals. She did grab 15 rebounds, though.
"When you play other teams you haven't played before, it's kind of tough to know everything that the other team's going to do and for them to know everything you're going to do," Moore said. "This one, I think, is going to be more of a grind-out kind of game."
UConn (34-1) committed 47 turnovers in the two meetings, failing to take care of the basketball against the Hoyas' relentless pressure.
"Georgetown has a unique style of play and not an easy style to play against for anybody," Huskies coach Geno Auriemma said. "The fact this is the third time we're playing them that has some advantages."
With Moore struggling, freshman center Stefanie Dolson made her presence felt with a career-high 24 points. In the first game she was saddled with foul trouble so never got into the flow of the game.
She was stellar in UConn's opening two victories in the NCAA tournament over Hartford and Purdue. The 6-foot-5 Dolson helped UConn get to the regional semifinals for the 18th straight season.
Auriemma has had a lot of success in Philadelphia, making his first Final Four in 1991 after playing at the regional at the Palestra. In 2000, Auriemma's team won its second national championship.
While UConn is a regular in the round of 16, Georgetown is a relative newcomer. The Hoyas have only been this far once before in 1992-93.
Georgetown coach Terri Williams Flournoy was an assistant on that Hoyas team that lost to Virginia. She also was an assistant for Georgia and Southwest Missouri State when they made their NCAA runs.
She thinks playing a familiar opponent can go either way.
"It's a blessing we know the team we are playing and understand them, but at the same time it is a curse we are playing UConn, the No. 1 team in the country," Williams Flournoy said. "Nobody's picking us to win. Let's go out and have some fun; we're in the sweet 16."
Even President Obama picked against the Hoyas in the opening round game against Princeton. Yet the Hoyas easily dispatched the Tigers then went on to beat Beltway rival Maryland in the second round.
Georgetown has exuded confidence all season long, playing with a swagger. The Hoyas have dialed it down a little bit for this game.
"I don't want to be bulletin-board material," said Georgetown forward Monica McNutt smiling."
The Hoyas have been led by guard Sugar Rodgers who has been averaging close to 30 points in the NCAAs. She only had 16 points in the first meeting against UConn and 17 in the second game.
While Georgetown will need a better scoring effort from her to win, the Hoyas put this game in perspective.
"We are the underdogs and no one expects us to win," Georgetown center Tia Magee said. "A couple of years ago no one even knew Georgetown had a women's basketball team."