A BIG UPSET
With .1 of a
second to go in its Greensboro Regional semifinal, all that top-seeded Duke
needed to do to beat Rutgers and advance to the Elite Eight was make two free
throws. Senior point guard Lindsey Harding, the ACC player of the year and a
75.9% foul shooter, was at the line.
There was no one
Duke coach Gail Goestenkors would rather have had there with the season in the
balance. "I love having the ball in Lindsey's hands," she said later.
With Rutgers up 53--52, Harding needed to make one to tie, two to win.
Improbably, she clanged both off the back of the rim. After the buzzer sounded,
Harding fell to the ground and covered her face with her hands in disbelief as
her teammates rushed to console her. "My heart breaks for her," said
Goestenkors after the game. "I don't want this to be her lasting memory.
She has meant so much to this program for so many years."
Duke's loss set
up an Elite Eight matchup between No. 4 seed Rutgers and No. 3 seed Arizona
State, teams that were scheduled to meet in November in a tournament in the
Virgin Islands. But on the morning of the game, Jordan Johnson, the 15-year-old
brother of Arizona State forward Aubree Johnson, was found dead in his hotel,
the victim of complications from an enlarged heart. The game was canceled, and
both teams returned home. The Sun Devils played on in memory of Jordan, and the
Scarlet Knights matured into one of the nation's toughest defensive teams. When
they finally met on Monday night, Rutgers rolled to a 64--45 victory--and its
second Final Four.
A COACH WHO
WOULDN'T GIVE UP
One of North
Carolina State coach Kay Yow's favorite sayings is, "When life kicks you,
let it kick you forward." So when the Hall of Famer returned to the bench
on Jan. 25 after taking a leave to battle stage 4 breast cancer, her 13--7 team
started playing at a higher level, notching Yow's 700th career win as it went
12--2 to reach the Sweet 16. "Having Coach Yow back motivated us," said
forward Khadijah Whittington. "Her fight has been an inspiration."
Yow, 65, who has
lost her hair, her appetite, and much of her energy to ongoing chemotherapy
treatments, flew from Raleigh to Fresno last Thursday with her nurse, Angela
Vaughan, at her side and an IV in her arm. Yow had blood drawn at a clinic to
check her platelet levels every day in Fresno. Yet before Saturday's game
Vaughan reported that Yow was looking "the best I've seen her in a long
time." Her team looked strong, too, at least at the outset. But after
taking a 37--36 halftime lead over top-seeded Connecticut, N.C. State wilted in
the second half and lost 78--71, bringing an end to an inspiring tournament
run. Even Huskies coach Geno Auriemma looked chagrined, later expressing his
mixed feelings about having to play "the bad guy."
As she walked off
the court, for perhaps the last time, Yow gave the Wolfpack hand signal. Fans
of N.C. State, UConn, LSU and Florida State alike stood and applauded.