- The Washington Times - Monday, April 6, 2009

From combined dispatches

NO. 3 LOUISVILLE 61, NO. 1 OKLAHOMA 59: Angel McCoughtry and the Cardinals played the second half as if they belonged in their first Final Four.

McCoughtry scored 14 of her 18 points in the second half and added 11 rebounds, helping the Cardinals crawl out of an early hole to beat the Sooners in the national semifinals Sunday night in St. Louis and end Courtney Paris’ stellar career.

Down 12 points at halftime, Louisville got back into the game with a 15-1 run while the Sooners’ shooting went south - just 26.9 percent in the second half. Still, Oklahoma had a chance to win it in the final seconds with Nyeshia Stevenson’s good look on a 3-point attempt, but it rattled out.

“We have not one high school All-American on this team, but these guys have worked so hard,” McCoughtry said. “I’m so proud of them.”

Keshia Hines added 10 rebounds and nine points for the Cardinals (34-4), who will face unbeaten and top-ranked Connecticut in Tuesday’s final.

Paris, a four-time All-American, had promised to pay back the cost of her four-year scholarship if the Sooners failed to win the title. She had 14 points and 16 rebounds and left the court in tears after exchanging hugs with McCoughtry and huddling with her team for a final time.

Ashley Paris, Courtney’s twin sister, had 16 points and seven rebounds for Oklahoma.

Louisville looked nervous while enduring an awful first half. The Cardinals fell behind 16-2 after 7 1/2 minutes and finished the half down by 12 after season-worst 22 percent field goal shooting.

Louisville coach Jeff Walz challenged McCoughtry at halftime.

“I told her she was awful,” Walz said. “She came out in the second half and played like an All-American.”

The Cardinals took their first lead on a drive by McCoughtry with about 15 minutes to go. Oklahoma missed nine of its first 10 shots and never was able to regain control.

“We came out too relaxed, and Louisville did a good job taking advantage of that,” Courtney Paris said.

No. 1 CONNECTICUT 83, No. 2 STANFORD 64: Renee Montgomery scored 26 points, Maya Moore added 24 and the unbeaten Huskies cruised to their first title game in five years with a victory over the Cardinal.

The outcome never in doubt, Connecticut overwhelmed and dismantled Stanford, crushing the latest challenger to the Huskies’ bid for a third undefeated season and sixth national championship.

When UConn (38-0) faces Louisville for the title Tuesday night, it will be the first all-Big East final in NCAA women’s basketball history.

Jayne Appel scored 26 points to lead Stanford (33-5), but she had little help.

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