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Connecticut cranks up defense, knocks Kentucky out of women’s NCAA tournament

Tiffany Hayes scored 22 points and top-seed Connecticut beat Kentucky 80-65 Tuesday night to advance to the Final Four for the fifth straight season.

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis added 18 for UConn (33-4), which will play the winner of Notre Dame and Maryland on Sunday in Denver. The Huskies matched their own school mark of five straight trips to the national semifinals. Louisiana State and Stanford have also accomplished the feat.

Unlike their previous four trips to the regional finals, which were quick blowouts, the Huskies had to work hard to pull away from the Wildcats.

UConn led 48-47 early in the second half before turning up its defense. The Huskies used a 21-4 run to take command. Hayes, the lone senior on the team, was the catalyst, scoring seven points during the surge. She was selected most outstanding player of the regional.

Kentucky (28-7) could get no closer than 15 the rest of the way.

Earlier Tuesday, Natasha Adair was named the College of Charleston Cougars’ new women’s basketball coach. She spent the previous eight seasons as an assistant at Wake Forest. Before that, she spent six years as a Georgetown assistant coach.

Adair takes over for Nancy Wilson, who retired after 17 years as head coach. College of Charleston finished 7-23 this season and 6-14 in the Southern Conference.