Virginia has to beat 'mystery team' to return to Final Four NCAA women


Just who is Lamar?

That's an answer Virginia has to find out quickly if the Cavaliers plan to return to Final Four.

The mystery team of the women's NCAA tournament claimed another prominent victim last night when the Lady Cardinals defeated No. 9 Arkansas 91-75 in a Midwest semifinal contest.

The Razorbacks (28-4), Southwest Conference champions, were the surprise of last year's tournament when they advanced to the West final, but Lamar (29-3) has been even more impressive in becoming the lowest seed to reach the round of eight.

Coach Al Barbre's team, seeded 10th, got six three-pointers and 23 points from Brenda Hatchett to lead the way. Lamar began the playoffs with an upset of No. 16 Texas, the seventh seed, on the Longhorns' floor in the first round.

In the second round, No. 8 LSU, the SEC tournament champions, were eliminated by Lamar.

"We could have hurt our image as an underdog," said Barbre. "We might have finally convinced most folks we're good. Virginia is a monster team and I suspect we'll still carry that underdog tag against them."

Virginia (29-2), meanwhile, was led by Heather Burge's 19 points as the No. 2-ranked Cavaliers put on a strong second half run to beat the No. 25 Oklahoma State Cowgirls 76-61 in the other semifinal game of the Midwest regional, both at Austin, Texas.

Tammi Reiss and Dawn Staley each scored 14 points and Heidi Burge added 12 points as the Cavaliers advanced to a regional final for the second consecutive year.

The Cowgirls (27-6), making their first appearance into the final 16, were led by Lisa McGill with 17 points, Liz Brown with 16 and Shea Jackson with 13.

Virginia put the game away with a 24-6 run early in the second half as the Cavs' superior depth took its toll.

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