Huskies advance to eight consecutive Big East final
Updated: Tuesday March 06, 2001 2:11 AM
STORRS, Conn. (AP) -- No. 2 Connecticut was off to a quick start against No. 8 Rutgers in the Big East semifinal game Monday night when a major winter storm nearly gummed up the works.Play was delayed 90 minutes to repair Gampel Pavilion's roof after it sprung a leak with 3:13 left in the first half with UConn leading 41-20. But the Huskies didn't miss a beat when they returned and posted a 94-66 victory to advance to their eighth consecutive Big East tournament title game. The top spot in the nation is at stake when UConn takes on No. 1 Notre Dame in Tuesday's final. Swin Cash led UConn with 20 points, and Diana Taurasi added 17. "I told the players that's probably the best we've played the whole 40 minutes in a long time," head coach Geno Auriemma said. Actually, the entire game took more than three hours. The Huskies watched the movie The Kings of Comedy in the interim and planned to spend the night in Gampel because of the storm. "It gave us something to do," said Shea Ralph, who had a team-high seven rebounds. "We were laughing and staying awake. Our spirit was high in the locker room and it was our job to make it stay that way." UConn used its quick transition game and dominating post play to built a 26-3 run in the first 10 minutes. Forwards Cash and Asjha Jones combined for 19 points in the run. "We were getting a lot of 1-on-1s in the lane and that's why we wanted to get the ball inside," Cash said. The Huskies had a 23-6 rebounding edge and a 50-23 lead going into the break. "They have tremendous talent and depth," Rutgers head coach C. Vivian Stringer said. "Sometimes Connecticut is just that great and they make you look bad." Tasha Pointer led Rutgers (22-7) with 18 points. UConn played without point guard Sue Bird, who sat out with back spasms. The championship game is the second meeting this season between UConn and Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish beat UConn 92-76 in South Bend on Jan. 15. About 5,000 fans braved the elements, despite an earlier plea from Gov. John G. Rowland to stay off the roads. "It was so amazing to me," Cash said of the fan turnout. "We wanted to come out and let them know that we heard them tonight." One of the loudest cheers went up for Bill Sehl, the building engineer who was hoisted 100 feet inside the arena to fix the leak.