No. 1 Connecticut had a hard time not thinking about a return trip to Philadelphia for the NCAA women's Final Four.
"It's not easy to concentrate when you're down here. But I think our concentration level was very focused," Coach Geno Auriemma said after the visiting Huskies beat Villanova, 79-46, yesterday.
Shea Ralph and Swin Cash scored 13 points each to lead Connecticut (17-0, 6-0 Big East). Svetlana Abrosimova scored 10 of her 12 points in the second half and Sue Bird added 12 points for the Huskies.
Auriemma, a Philadelphia native, said he urged his players not to think about the Final Four, a difficult task he admitted.
"I'm already scouting restaurants," Auriemma said.
Jenea Skeeters led Villanova (9-7, 2-3) with 10 points, going 3 for 16.
Only six players scored for Villanova, which did not have a field goal over the final 10 minutes of the game.
"In 22 years I haven't seen a better team one through 10. They make a substitution and nothing changes," Coach Harry Perretta said of the Huskies, who had 10 players score.
Connecticut led 38-18 at halftime, shooting 62 percent to Villanova's 30 percent.
Villanova rallied early in the second half, keyed by Trish Juhline's consecutive three-pointers with 11 minutes 46 seconds left to close the gap to 19.
But Cash made two free throws followed by a fast-break basket past the breathless Wildcats to put Connecticut up 60-37 with 8:19 remaining.
"We switched a lot on defense and I think that frustrated them a little bit," Cash said.
Juhline's jumper with 10:03 remaining was Villanova's last basket from the field and the Wildcats never got within 20 again.
Ralph, whose breakaway layup with 1:32 left gave the Huskies their biggest lead of the game, 35 points, said it was premature to predict a Final Four appearance.
"We're good but we need to get better before we can think about that," Ralph said. The team planned to attend last night's 76ers game at First Union Center, the site of the Final Four.
NOTRE DAME 76, MIAMI 54: In Coral Gables, Fla., Danielle Green scored a season-high 22 points as No. 5 Notre Dame won its 11th straight. Notre Dame (15-2, 6-0) never trailed, but the Hurricanes (8-8, 2-3) made it a game after trailing by 14 at halftime.
BOSTON COLLEGE 71, PROVIDENCE 58: In Providence, R.I., Alissa Murphy scored 18 of her 22 points in the second half to spark No. 20 Boston College to its school-record 12th straight victory. The Eagles are 16-3, 5-0 Big East. The Friars fell to 9-7, 4-3.
ARIZONA 67, USC 52: In Tucson, reserve Angela Lackey scored 23 points to lead the No. 16 Wildcats (15-3, 4-2 Pac-10).
TEXAS TECH 76, KANSAS 56: Aleah Johnson scored 21 points and Plenette Pierson had 17 as No. 15 Texas Tech (15-2, 4-2 Big 12) won at home. The Jayhawks fell to 12-5, 3-2.
RUTGERS 55, WEST VIRGINIA 49: Shawnetta Stewart scored 16 of her 22 points in the second half to lead the No. 11 Knights (12-4, 5-2 Big East) on the road. The Mountaineers (5-12, 0-6) lost their seventh straight.
OKLAHOMA 76, COLORADO 73: Phylesha Whaley and LaNeishea Caufield each scored 21 points as No. 25 Oklahoma won at home. The Sooners are 15-3, 5-0 in Big 12.
UCLA 76, ARIZONA ST. 55: In Tempe, Ariz., Maylana Martin scored 14 of her 18 points in the second half as No. 12 UCLA (11-4, 5-0 Pacific-10) extended its winning streak to six.