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Sunday, March 20, 2011
Big East proves its worth, goes 9-0


All nine Big East teams in the women's NCAA tournament have survived the opening round, a rare accomplishment for a conference and a bigger accomplishment given the sheer number of teams.

There had been some grumbling that the conference had been unduly rewarded.

Besides Connecticut's expected victory, DePaul, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Rutgers, St. John's and West Virginia all won their opening-round games. Marquette's three-point victory over Texas was among the bigger surprises of the weekend. DePaul (13), Georgetown (16), Louisville (19), Notre Dame (13) and Rutgers (25) all won by double-digit scores, and St. John's won by five over a tough Texas Tech team.

West Virginia did not have it easy in its 79-73 victory over Houston. A 15-point lead dissipated as the Cougars cranked up their offense behind Lesslee Mason and Brittney Scott, and Houston was able to close within three points with just over four minutes remaining.

But the Mountaineers (24-9) fought off the challenge as Liz Repella scored seven of her 26 points in the last four minutes of the game.

That's a pretty good way to justify receiving so many bids.