UConn 67, Louisiana Tech 48

If the depth of Connecticut's talent was not apparent before, it certainly is now.

All-Americans Svetlana Abrosimova and Shea Ralph went down with season-ending injuries, and it didn't slow the Huskies in the least. They just keep winning, and now they are only two victories from a second straight national women's championship.

Freshman Diana Taurasi, showing poise beyond her years, led the way as Connecticut earned its fifth trip to the Final Four with a 67-48 victory over Louisiana Tech in the Mideast Regional final at Pittsburgh on Monday night.

It was the 15th straight victory for UConn, all since Abrosimova was sidelined by a foot injury on Feb. 1.

"A lot of teams who lost two players like that would have folded," point guard Sue Bird said. "A lot of people doubted us when Shea and Svet went down. We would read things about how we didn't have the players to get it done."

They've done it, all right, and their opponent in the national semifinals in St. Louis on Friday night will be all too familiar. It's Big East rival Notre Dame, which beat Vanderbilt 72-64 in the Midwest final at Denver.

Purdue, the 1999 national champion, will play Jackie Stiles and Southwest Missouri State in the other semifinal.

Led by Final Four veterans Katie Douglas, Camille Cooper and Kelly Komara, Purdue beat Xavier 88-78 in the Mideast final at Birmingham, Ala. Stiles, the NCAA career scoring leader, had 32 points and got plenty of help from her teammates in a 104-87 victory over Washington in the West Regional at Spokane, Wash.

UConn and Notre Dame, both 32-2, will meet for the third time. They split the first two games, each winning at home.

Notre Dame ended Connecticut's 30-game winning streak and knocked the Huskies out of the No. 1 spot in the rankings with a 92-76 victory in South Bend on Jan. 15. Connecticut won 78-76 in the Big East championship game on Bird's basket at the buzzer.