DePaul Falls to Connecticut in BIG EAST Semis

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Barbara Turner scored 14 points and Ann Strother added 13 to lead No. 9 Connecticut to a 69-57 win over DePaul in the semifinals of the Big East Conference tournament Monday night.

The second-seeded Huskies (28-4), winners of 12 BIG EAST tournament titles, took control in the final seven minutes with smothering defense and clutch baskets and rebounds from Turner.

Connecticut will play 12th-seeded West Virginia in the final on Tuesday. The Mountaineers, seeking their first title, became the lowest seed to reach the championship game in 23 years with their 56-40 upset over top-seeded Rutgers in the first semifinal.

The 13th-ranked Blue Demons (25-6), one of five former Conference USA members to join the Big East this season, haven't won a conference tournament since the 1998 Great Midwest title.

Khara Smith led the third-seeded Blue Demons with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Her jumper with 8:43 left tied it 51-all. The Blue Demons (25-6) trailed by as many as 10 but were able to climb back into it when the Huskies hit a 6-minute scoring drought early in the period.

Connecticut regained the lead for good on Mel Thomas' 3-pointer with 7:57 left. Smith countered with a hook shot to get DePaul to within a point. Turner made sure they would get no closer.

She hit a long jumper on Connnecticut's next possession to start a 6-0 run, and grabbed two straight defensive rebounds. Strother hit a backdoor layup to put the Huskies up by seven.

Smith's two free throws with 3:53 would be DePaul's final points as the Huskies closed out the game with a 7-0 run.

Game Notes: The loss snapped DePaul's seven-game winning streak... the team has now made 203 three-pointers this season, marking the seventh straight year with at least 200 three's... the 38-33 deficit at halftime was the first time DePaul trailed at the half since Jan. 31 at West Virginia... the Blue Demons have held their last nine opponents to less than 70 points... they are 7-2 in that span with defeats at then No.9 Rutgers and against Connecticut in the BIG EAST Tournament... Khara Smith played her 128th career game setting a new school record... she also registered her 20th double-double of the season and 74th of her career... Caprice Smith's 11 rebounds marked her second career game with at least 10 boards... Connecticut now leads the series, 2-1, with two victories this season.

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