TCU, Hartford look to keep upset roll going
TRENTON, N.J. -- Hartford and Texas Christian proved Sunday that the men's NCAA Tournament hasn't cornered the market on upsets by double-digit seeds this year. Now both teams will try to channel the momentum from those victories as they take another step up in class.
Tonight, TCU takes on third-seeded Rutgers (ESPN2, 9 ET) and 11th-seeded Hartford faces No. 3 seed Georgia (ESPN2, 7 ET) in second-round games at Sovereign Bank Arena with a trip to the regional round at stake.
The Georgia-Hartford winner will advance to Bridgeport, Conn., to face either No. 2 seed Connecticut or No. 7 Virginia Tech in the round of 16. Looming ahead for the survivor of the Rutgers-TCU game is a likely date with No. 2 seed Tennessee in Cleveland.
A Hartford-UConn matchup would provide an irresistible story line: Seventh-year Hawks coach Jennifer Rizzotti led the Huskies to the national championship in 1995 and would be facing her former coach, Geno Auriemma. In two previous meetings, Connecticut has won by margins of 23 and 25 points.
Rizzotti experienced life as a favorite during her playing days and is comfortable with the underdog's role as a coach.
"It's fun to be on both sides of it, I'll be honest," Rizzotti said Monday. "It's a lot more pressure to be on the other end, where you're the higher seed. Georgia is expected to win, and if they don't, it's a disappointing end to their season. Not that it won't be disappointing for us to lose, but if things happen to go our way, it's history in the making."
Hartford upset No. 6 seed Temple on the strength of 20 points by sophomore forward Danielle Hood and a collapsing defense that held Atlantic 10 player of the year Candice Dupree to 11 points on 4-for-12 shooting.
The Hawks will face a similar challenge from Georgia forward Tasha Humphrey, who had 23 points and seven rebounds in the Bulldogs' 75-60 win over Marist.
Georgia has more NCAA experience to draw from than any team in Trenton: Only Tennessee and Louisiana Tech have participated in more NCAA Tournaments than the Bulldogs' 23. Coach Andy Landers, who has been on the sidelines for all 23, is used to being the big kid on the block.
"When you establish yourself as a good basketball team, every time you take the floor there is somewhat of a target on you and your presence motivates the opponent," he said. "But you learn to live with that. That's part of being good. That was the expectation when Elvis walked on stage, that it was going to be show time. And he usually delivered."
While Georgia had the easiest path to the second round, Rutgers barely escaped with a 63-58 win Sunday over No. 14 seed Dartmouth, which befuddled the Scarlet Knights with its passing and perimeter shooting.
"There have been a lot of upsets, that's been the talk of this year," said Rutgers guard Essence Carson, who drew the decisive foul on Dartmouth's Angie Soriaga. "It's not called March Madness for nothing. Every game is a threat no matter what team it is or what conference you come from. Our concerns are ourselves. We're pretty much the only team that can beat ourselves. When we don't do things correctly, when we lose focus, that's when we lose games."
The 11th-seeded Horned Frogs managed to beat No. 6 seed Texas A&M on Sunday without leading scorer and rebounder Natasha Lacy, who has been excused from the team to attend to a personal matter and will also miss Tuesday's game.
TCU is in the NCAAs for the sixth straight year but needed to win six of its last eight regular-season games to get an at-large bid. The Horned Frogs have never advanced beyond the second round in four tries.
"We've been in a lot of close games during the tail end of the season that came down to last-second shots, free throws, things like that," said Ashley Davis, who had 20 points and 12 rebounds in TCU's first-round win. "I definitely think pressure situations aren't anything new to us. I think we're learning how to handle that better as a team and hopefully that will help us."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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