This is as close to " Hoosiers" as UConn had come this season — old-time Midwest arena against an opponent with old-school attributes intent on administering the old-fashioned upset.
But Sunday's Sweet 16 game against Iowa State wasn't a movie. And if there was anything black and white about it, it was the gap that separated the teams.
Let's face it, even Gene Hackman would have thrown his hands up in frustration over this one.
The Cyclones, who more than a decade ago handed UConn one of its toughest tournament losses, didn't come close to making news this time. But they did have the blues.
They were demolished 74-36 at the University of Dayton Arena by present-day women's basketball at its best, meaning Maya Moore, Tina Charles and relentless team defense.
Moore scored 25 points — 16 in the first 10 minutes, including four straight three-pointers — to lead the Huskies to an overwhelming win in the Dayton Regional semifinals.
"Connecticut is certainly as good as advertised," Cyclones coach Bill Fennelly said. "I don't think I've had a whipping like that since I was a little kid and I broke something of my mom's."
Moore tied her NCAA Tournament career high in points, done twice previously, by shooting 9-for-15 from the field, 5-for-7 on threes. She also had six rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Tina Charles had 16 points and seven rebounds, and freshman Kelly Faris scored a career-high 16 (6-for-8, 4-for-4 threes), giving her consecutive double-figure games for the first time.
Iowa State (25-8) was led by Anna Prins, who had 10 points. The Cyclones were 15-for-53 (28.3 percent) from the field, 6-for-25 on threes, and had 18 turnovers. They did not attempt a free throw.
"Believe me, Iowa State is a much better team that they showed today," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said.
The Huskies (36-0) have won 75 straight games and are three more from their second straight undefeated national championship.
The next step is Tuesday night's Elite Eight game against Florida State, which defeated Mississippi State 74-71 in the second semifinal.
This will be UConn's fifth straight Elite Eight appearance and its second game against FSU this season. The Huskies won 78-59 in Tallahassee on Dec. 28.
UConn's tournament wins over Southern, Temple and Iowa State have been caricatures more than contests. Simply, the Huskies have done what they wanted to do when they wanted to do it and have won by a combined 148 points — an NCAA record margin for the first three rounds.
"We weren't scared; we were excited to match up against them," Iowa State's Alison Lacey said. "I felt good about it. It was fine. There wasn't anything disappointing about it."
When she came out of the game for good with 9:16 left, Moore had outscored the entire Iowa State team by four. She was brilliant, just as she had been in the second-round win over Temple last week in Norfolk, Va.
Moore was 5-for-7, including those four straight threes, before heading to the bench with 10:36 remaining in the half shortly after picking up her second foul.
The Huskies led 12-2 before the first media timeout and had their first 20-point lead (32-12) when Faris made a three with 6:35 to play in the half. The freshman hit another three soon after to up the lead to 37-12.
By that time, the Huskies were already 7-for-12 on threes; they were playing Iowa State's game to perfection. The Cyclones, specialists in the three-ball, made only 2 of 8 in the first 17 minutes as their deficit deepened. It was 42-14 at halftime.
"Coming into the game, to be honest, I wasn't sure how we were going to stop them from making three-pointers," Auriemma said. "But I can't tell you how well this group played defensively, how well they prepared for the game."
Iowa State made only six of its first 22 shots and turned the ball over eight times, often struggling to get solid looks at the basket — just like all teams have against UConn.
Iowa State never went to the free-throw line, where UConn was 11-for-13. The Huskies committed only 10 fouls.
Fennelly, whose 1998-99 team beat the Huskies in the regional semifinals, said it looked like UConn was always a step ahead.
"I'm glad it looked that way," Moore said, "because that's the way Coach trains us to play; to always think ahead and anticipate."
The Huskies were only 16-for-38 in the first half, a far cry from when they buried Temple in the opening 20 minutes last Tuesday by hitting 21 of 27 (7-for-9 on threes).
But they simply refused to let Iowa State score. The Cyclones made only six first-half field goals, scoring four points in the final 11:26, none in last 4:02.
It was Moore of the same in the second half. She scored seven of UConn's first 11 points as the lead grew to 53-19 with 15:51 to play.
Other Sweet 16 ScoresFlorida State 74, Mississippi State 71Oklahoma 77, Notre Dame 72 (OT)Kentucky 76, Nebraska 67t Stories, bracket, C5Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun