The UConn Women were in transition. No final fours in 2005 or 2006. Would 2007 be the year ?? They were the top seed in the West Regional that season. Beating UMBC and Wisconsin-Green Bay in Hartford to get to Fresno, California for the a 13th consecutive Sweet 16 appearance. Where awaiting them was an inspired NC State Wolfpack of the ACC. Inspired by their Coach, Kay Yow, who at the time was battling stage 4 breast cancer. When she returned to the sidelines, State reeled off a 12-2 record over their last 14 to earn a trip to Fresno.
The first half was a battle as the Huskies had difficulties containing the impressive post game of Gillian Goring, once a UConn Recruit and Khadijah Willingham. The duo sent the Wolfpack to the locker room with a 37-36 lead, combining for 20p and 8r in the first half. And just before the trip to the locker room, Geno Auriemma was hot under the collar after he thought Willingham had committed a foul on her offensive putback just before the break.
The early stages of the second half, the Huskies did what they do best, transition basketball. An 11-2 run but the Huskies in the drivers seat, leading by as many as 11 midway thru the second half. The UConn trio of Charde Houston, Renee Montgomery and Kalana Greene led the way. Houston scoring 12 of her 18 in the second half while Montgomery had more assists (8) than the team had turnovers (7)...And Greene, who earlier in the season had a breakout game at North Carolina, responded with an 17 point, 12 rebound double-double...And Greene, roughly a 69% free throw shooter on the season, made 11 of 12 from the line. Many late to hold off a Wolfpack rally that included a couple of banked in three pointers from Marquetta Dickens.
The top seeded Huskies went to 32-3 with the win, where the battle proven LSU Tigers awaited them in the Elite 8. The Tigers, led by Sylvia Fowles beat UConn handily two nights late to earn 4th straight of what would be 5 consecutive final four appearances. For UConn, it would be the last time the Huskies wouldn't get to a Final Four for a LONG time...
As for Kay Yow, some thought that the loss to UConn might be the last game of her Hall of Fame coaching career given the circumstances. She did in fact keep going, coaching the full 07-08' campaign and a very small part of the following season before losing her battle in January of 2009. Today Kay Yow's spirit lives on thru the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, which has raised as of now, $7.78 Million dollars to help stop breast cancer. And as many of you know, Women's College Basketball designates a home game as a "think pink" game to raise awareness. UConn has auctioned off their Game Uniforms while Geno Auriemma has done the same with game worn ties all for the Kay Yow Fund.
The picture by the way on the title page is of my broadcast colleague, Wayne Norman interviewing Coach Yow the day before the teams met in Fresno. Kara Wolters was on maternity leave so Wayno and our friend, the late Kevin Ingles made the trip west. Thanks to Former Courant Photographer John Woike for the photo