By Dylan Butler
And then there was one.
A bevy of local hoops standouts saw their dreams of advancing to the NCAA Final Four dashed at different times over the last few weeks, but for only one that dream will become a reality this weekend in San Antonio, Tex.
Sue Bird, a former Christ the King standout from Syosset, netted a career-high 26 points, including 8-of-8 from the foul line, and dished out 11 assist in leading the undefeated University of Connecticut women’s basketball team to an 85-64 win over Old Dominion in the Mideast Regional final Monday in Milwaukee, Wis. Bird was also named Mideast Region Most Outstanding Player.
Connecticut (37-0) advances to its third straight Final Four and will face longtime rival Tennessee Friday. The winner plays in the national championship game Sunday at 7:30 p.m.
Another UConn point guard, Taliek Brown, saw his Final Four aspirations fall Sunday when the Huskies fell to top-seeded Maryland, 90-82, in the East Regional Final at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.
The sophomore from LeFrak City had 12 points, including 2-of-4 from three-point range, and three assists in 34 minutes for the Huskies.
A Frederick Jones layup with 2.8 seconds left ended Royal Ivey’s sensational sophomore season, as Oregon topped Texas, 72-70, in the Midwest Regional semifinal Friday in Madison, Wis.
Ivey, a former Cardozo standout from Hollis, was held to just eight points and had two steals in 19 minutes for the Longhorns.
“I’m so proud of this team, but this is the worst feeling in the world,” Ivey said after the game. “To get so close, but be so far away. It hurts really bad.”
Reggie Brown, who played his high school ball at Molloy, had different dreams. His were to return home with the University of Richmond to play in the National Invitational Tournament semifinals at Madison Square Garden.
The Flushing native, too, was denied as the Spiders fell to Syracuse, 62-46, in the NIT quarterfinals March 20 in Richmond, Va.
Brown netted a team-high 14 points, but shot just 4-for-15, including 3-for-9 from three-point range in the loss.
SJU fencing finishes second in NCAA tournament
The St. John’s fencing team could not repeat as national champions, finishing five points behind Penn State, which captured its seventh title in eight years Sunday at Drew University in Madison, N.J.
The Red Storm, who finished among the top-five at the NCAA championships for a seventh straight year, was led by junior Ivan Lee, who defeated Jakub Krochmalski of Wayne State for his second straight sabre gold medal.
Lee, who is ranked first in the United States in the sabre and ranks among the top-10 in the world, won all nine of his bouts in the first day of competition and beat Krochmalski, 15-9 for the gold medal.
Freshman Arpad Horvath won all nine of his bouts Sunday and defeated Princeton’s Soren Thompson, 15-9, to win the gold medal in epee.
Senior Jonathan Tionkin fell to Penn State’s Nonpatat Panchan, 15-13, in the foil gold medal match. Tionkin earned a bronze medal in 1999.
SJU’s Holmes named Big East Pitcher of the Week
After helping the Red Storm take two of three against Villanova this weekend, St. John’s senior pitcher Greg Holmes was named Big East Pitcher of the Week, the conference announced Tuesday.
Holmes went 7.1 innings and allowed two unearned runs on four hits as the Red Storm defeated Villanova, 16-2, to sweep a doubleheader Saturday. He is now 2-0 with a 3.44 earned run average in five appearances this season.
Marino leads Broward CC
Former Holy Cross High School basketball star Joe Marino, a freshman forward, averaged 14.8 points and 5.8 rebounds and earned all-conference honors to lead Broward, coached by former Cardozo and York hoopster Bob Starkman, to an 18-12 record.
SJU softball wins home opening doubleheader
The St. John’s softball team defeated Sacred Heart, 6-0 and 1-0, in the team’s home opener at Red Storm Field last Thursday.
In the opener, the Red Storm got a strong pitching performance from freshman Meghan Allman, who struck out eight while giving up just three hits for her third consecutive shutout.
Freshman Allina Sainz went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored and senior Cecelia Baston was 2-for-2 with one RBI for St. John’s.
In the nightcap, senior Tiffany Howerton accounted for the lone run with a solo homer to lead off the sixth inning. Howerton also hit the first-ever home run at Red Storm Field on Senior Day last year.
Allman again went the distance, allowing six hits and striking out four to improve to 10-11.
St. John’s (10-13) was slated to open its Big East schedule on the road against Syracuse and Connecticut last weekend, but the games were postponed due to inclement weather. Instead, the Red Storm will play its conference opener at home, with a doubleheader against Seton Hall Saturday at noon.
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.