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We had a potential women's Final Four preview Monday night in Hartford, Conn., and Waco, Texas, with four top-15 teams on display.
Let's start in Connecticut. It's not a coincidence that UConn has won an NCAA record 75 consecutive home games. Visitors get devoured when they enter the Huskies' lair. And Oklahoma is the latest team to experience the domination of Maya Moore & Co. UConn jumped out to an early 18-6 lead, and it became evident that the biggest question was not whether UConn would win, but by how much. It turned out the answer was 41, as UConn dismantled, thrashed and completely dominated the Sooners 86-45, holding Oklahoma to a season-low point total.
Moore put on a clinic, scoring 27 points to become the all-time leading scorer in the Big East. She also threw in seven rebounds, seven assists and a career-high six steals for good measure. It was as if she knew she was on the national stage before Baylor's player of the year contender, Brittney Griner. Moore is quite a tough act to follow. The critics keep reminding us that UConn is young (two freshman starters), UConn is thin (only nine players available) and UConn is beatable. The Huskies now have won 103 of their past 104 games and made the No. 12 team in the nation look like a bunch of high schoolers. UConn remains the team to beat until proven otherwise.
The game in Waco between No. 5 Texas A&M and No. 1 Baylor could not have been any more different from UConn's romp. In a battle of Big 12 powerhouses, we saw a close, tough game, one that was sometimes hard to watch (so many whistles, so many turnovers). The Aggies came out firing and were not intimidated in the least. Behind sharpshooting Tyra White (not Danielle Adams, much to everybody's surprise), the game was tied at 29 at halftime. After a run to take a 47-40 lead midway through the second half, it looked like A&M could have a shot at ending the Bears' 20-game winning streak.
But Griner would have none of it, taking over the game down the stretch, scoring 21 of the Bears' final 32 points. After being held to just three points in the first half, Griner electrified the Ferrell Center with 23 second-half points to lead the Bears to an impressive, hard-fought 67-58 win. Griner is absolutely a force down low and was able to impose her will on a tough, confident opponent. If freshman guard Odyssey Sims (22 points) can continue her fearless shooting, there is no reason to think this team isn't heading to Indianapolis in April.