Upstart Old Dominion Tries To Ruin Connecticut's Perfect Season

March 25, 2002
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

March 25, 2002

  • AP Preview | 2002 Lady Monarchs Tournament Central

    By JR ROSS
    Associated Press Writer

    MILWAUKEE (AP) - The Old Dominion Monarchs are one of only two teams to outrebound Connecticut this season.

    They also held the Huskies to just 1-for-12 shooting from 3-point range in that December meeting.

    All it earned them was the distinction of being one of six teams to lose to undefeated UConn by 20 points or less.

    Still, Monarchs coach Wendy Larry said they won't be intimidated Monday with a trip to the Final Four on the line.

    "We know what UConn is all about," Larry said Sunday. "We know what we have to do to have a shot to win Monday night."

    Connecticut, which has won 36 straight games, beat Old Dominion (28-5) 84-70 in December.

    Still, Larry believes Lucienne Berthieu could prove the difference this time.

    Berthieu scored 17 points against the Huskies in the first game, including 15 in the second half. At the time, she was still recovering from knee surgery that sidelined her last season.

    Berthieu said she was tentative in that first game against the Huskies and wasn't confident that her knee would hold up to her physical style of play.

    "I feel a lot more confident, a lot more in shape and better in every way now than I was in December," she said.

    Connecticut coach Genoa Auriemma expects a physical, up-tempo game.

    In the first game against Old Dominion, Connecticut shot 25-for-34 from the line, while the Monarchs shot 17-for-27 in a game that included 49 fouls.

    Auriemma also expects a better defensive effort than the one he saw in Connecticut's 82-64 win over Penn State on Saturday.

    Connecticut was allowing just 50.2 points a game and beating its opponents by an average of 37.4 points. Penn State broke the 50-point barrier with just less than 15 minutes to go in the second half.

    Connecticut used a mix of zone and man-to-man defenses to throw off the Lady Lions, limiting Penn State to 13 points the final 15 minutes.

    "Our team didn't play anywhere close to our A game," said Swin Cash, who scored a season-high 29 points against Old Dominion. "That's going to change tomorrow."

    One thing that won't change is the expectations for the two teams.

    For the Monarchs, there aren't any.

    Larry hasn't been shy about her unhappiness with the seventh seed Old Dominion received. After beating third-seeded Kansas State 88-62 on Saturday, Larry said the Monarchs weren't happy just to be in the tournament. Instead, they made it their mission to crash as many parties as they could along the way.

    The Lady Monarchs are pressure free, figuring no one expected them to be among the final eight.

    Conversely, the top-seeded Huskies have faced high expectations the entire season. Auriemma has even been asked which team he wants to the play in San Antonio, in the Final Four.

    A great position for Old Dominion to be in, right? Maybe not.

    "Party crashers usually get beat up or arrested, don't they? At least they did where I come from," Auriemma said jokingly.