DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Maya Moore and Connecticut are just two steps away from their ultimate goal after another rout in the NCAA tournament.
Moore scored 22 points to lead the Huskies past Florida State 90-50 on Tuesday night, sending the defending champions back to the Final Four and stretching their unprecedented win streak to 76 games.
Tina Charles controlled the paint with 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Huskies (37-0), who advance to their eighth Final Four since 2000 where they will meet Baylor in the semifinals Sunday night.
The 40-point victory was the largest margin ever in a regional final.
Jacinta Monroe had 15 points for the Seminoles (29-6), who set a school record for victories while going deeper in the NCAA tournament than any FSU team before.
Moore, selected as the regional’s most outstanding player, had 11 points early then watched from the bench with foul trouble as Charles and her supporting cast stretched the lead. Moore then returned with eight quick points after the break as the Huskies sealed the deal.
Kalana Greene added 15 points and Tiffany Hayes had 13 points, seven assists and five rebounds for UConn. The Huskies shot 61 percent in the second half to pull away while limiting the Seminoles to 25 percent.
The Huskies are dominating unlike any team ever. No team has come within 12 points of them all season. They have won their first four games of the 2010 NCAA tournament by a record 188 points — a margin of 47 points a game. They are now 11-5 in regional championship games.
Moore, perhaps itching to play after sitting out the last 12 minutes of the first half with two fouls, quickly helped put the game away at the outset of the second half.
On the opening possession, the Huskies went to their high-low game, with Charles wheeling to throw a perfect pass to Moore for a three-point play. Greene then stole the ball in the FSU backcourt and fed Moore for a breakaway layup.
After two baskets by the Seminoles, Hayes hit a drive and Moore swished a 25-footer 3. That made it 52-32 and the rout was on.
“Boy, they make you play ugly,” FSU coach Sue Semrau said, shaking her head. “We missed a ton of shots but that’s because they did such a great job in every area.”
The University of Dayton Arena crowd’s allegiance was almost evenly split between the teams. One underdog-lover did wear a white shirt with red letters that said, “Any 1 But UConn.”
Unlike so many of the wins during the streak, this one was not a runaway from the outset. Moore scored 11 points and was nearly perfect from the field, but also picked up her second foul during a rebound scrum at the 14:29 mark with UConn leading 15-9. Coach Geno Auriemma then brought in his second big center, Kaili McLaren to pair with Charles, and also went to a trapping zone defense.
The Huskies built the lead to 22-9 only to have the Seminoles bounce back to cut it to 22-19 on back-to-back 3s by Courtney Ward and Alysha Harvin.
A 10-1 run by Connecticut — Charles scoring six points and Hayes adding four, along with two assists on Charles buckets — pushed the lead to 35-22, the Huskies hanging on for a 42-28 lead at the break.
Charles had 16 points and 11 boards, while Moore had 11 in just over 8 minutes on the court. She had scored 25 points in 25 minutes in the semifinal win over Iowa State.
The teams met in Tallahassee, Fla., on Dec. 28, with top-ranked Connecticut winning 78-59. Charles scored 16 of her 24 points in the second half of that game as UConn pulled away while shooting 49 percent from the field to FSU’s 31 percent. The teams were evenly matched on the boards, but the Seminoles had 21 turnovers that the Huskies turned into 26 points.
This time the Huskies forced 19 turnovers while harassing the Seminoles on every single shot.