Ohio State, Virginia gain East final Cavs eye revenge for TV humiliation


RICHMOND, Va. -- When the bracket for the NCAA women's basketball tournament was announced two weeks ago, the Virginia Cavaliers circled the date and waited patiently for it to come.

The tournament pairings in the East region held the possibility of a meeting between the No. 9 Cavaliers, the second seed in the region, and No. 3 Ohio State, the top seed.

And with Virginia's 77-57 drubbing of Georgetown at the Richmond Coliseum last night and Ohio State's 86-73 win over Western Kentucky, that day arrives.

Tomorrow morning's regional final gives the Cavaliers a chance to earn their fourth straight berth in the Final Four -- and settle a two-month-old score.

The Buckeyes beat Virginia, 91-84, in Columbus in early January on national television behind 35 points from super freshman Katie Smith, and if you think the Cavaliers have forgotten, think again.

Said guard Dena Evans: "I'd be lying if I said we didn't look at that [matchup] right away. But we put it out of our minds until now. We'll be ready for it."

Virginia coach Debbie Ryan said: "Ohio State had a week to prepare for that game and we had only one day. We were very fatigued. Ohio State did a great job that day of taking us out of our offense. This is really going to tell me how far we've come."

Last night, Virginia (26-5) ended the Cinderella run of the Hoyas (23-7), who had knocked off two higher seeded teams, by using their superior height to pound the Hoyas inside.

"There was no way we could stop those tall girls. Their size was definitely the determining factor," said guard Kris Wifill.

Ryan said: "Heather Burge [game-high 21 points] had a tremendous night and our guards did a nice job of getting the ball to her in advantageous positions."

In the first semifinal, the Buckeyes (26-3), who have won 12 straight, rode torrid second-half free-throw shooting (22 of 23), good transition offense and improved defense to extend their longest stay in the tournament in six years.

Trailing by six at halftime, Ohio State tied the score with a 6-0 run in the first 1 1/2 minutes of the half, then put the game away with a 17-5 spurt late in the period.

Ohio State coach Nancy Darsch said: "We were playing kind of tentatively or we were getting some good shots, but not getting them to fall. We just came out to start the second half aggressively. When I saw the way we started the second half, I knew we'd be OK."

A healthy dose of Smith helped them get that way. After a slow first half, in which the Hilltoppers (24-7) kept her in check, the 5-11 forward either sank baskets on drives or worked her way to the foul line on the way to 20 points.

Mideast Regional

* Tennessee 74, North Carolina 54: Top-seeded Tennessee got 13 points from Tiffany Woosley and used a dominating inside game win in Iowa City, Iowa.

Tennessee (29-2) moved into the regional final tomorrow for the 10th time in 12 years and spoiled the first Sweet 16 appearance by North Carolina (23-7) since 1986.

The second-ranked Volunteers out-rebounded North Carolina 46-31 and took control after coach Pat Summitt called a timeout with her team leading by only a point late in the first half. They'll play Iowa for the right to move on to the Final Four in Atlanta.

* Iowa 63, Auburn 50: Tia Jackson scored 19 points and helpebreak Auburn's zone defense with her outside shooting as second-seeded Iowa won in Iowa City, Iowa.

Iowa (26-3), which leads the nation in scoring defense, stifled third-seeded Auburn from the start and will play top-seeded Tennessee in the regional final tomorrow.

The Hawkeyes also got 14 points each from Toni Foster and Necole Tunsil and 10 from Cathy Marx.

Midwest Regional

* Vanderbilt 59, Stephen F. Austin 56: Shelley Jarrard scored 12 points and No. 1-ranked Vanderbilt finally beat back Stephen F. Austin's determined upset bid in the regional semifinal in Nacagdoches, Texas.

Vanderbilt will play Louisiana Tech (26-5) in tomorrow's regional championship.

The underdog Ladyjacks (28-5) attacked Vanderbilt from the opening tip with a full-court trapping defense that helped them to a 32-32 deadlock at the half.

They forced the issue in the second half until the final six minutes when the Commodores broke from 46-45 with six straight points for a 52-45 lead with 3:11 to play.

Vanderbilt (29-2) won it at the free throw line at the end. Ten of its final 13 points were free throws.

* Louisiana Tech 59, Southwest Missouri 43: Louisiana Tech's Danielle Whitehurst scored 22 points and the Lady Techsters used a wilting defense to win.

West Regional

* Texas Tech 87, Southern Cal 67: Sheryl Swoopes scored 33 points and Krista Kirkland 26 as Texas Tech beat Southern California in Missoula, Mont.

Tech advanced to tomorrow night's regional final.

DTC * Colorado 80, Stanford 67: Shelley Sheetz scored 28, anStephanie Mack made the key free throws late in the game in Colorado's upset of defending national champion Stanford in the other semifinal in Missoula, Mont. The Lady Buffs (27-3) will meet Texas Tech (28-3) tomorrow in the regional final.

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