Feb. 24, 1998
VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) - Nykesha Sales started Connecticut off on her good foot and then the second-ranked Huskies struggled in their first test without her before outlasting Villanova 75-71 in overtime Tuesday night.
Under a pre-arranged agreement between both coaches, Sales, hobbled by an Achilles' tendon injury, was allowed to score off the opening tip to become UConn's all-time leading scorer.
Then she sat on the bench and watched as the Huskies (28-2, 17-1 Big East) came close to losing only their third Big East contest in the past five seasons before winning the nail-biter.
Villanova's Mimi Riley hit a 3 from the right corner with 3.3 seconds left in regulation for a 64-64 tie that forced the overtime.
The Huskies scored the first five points of the overtime. And after a Riley jumper closed it to 69-66 with 2:17 left, Svetlana Abrosimova and Rita Williams both hit two free throws to push UConn's lead to seven with 87 seconds remaining.
Jenn Beisel's two free throws brought the Wildcats (18-8, 12-6) to within five, but Williams hit one of her own to give the Huskies a 74-68 lead. Williams and Paige Sauer both sank free throws to ice the game.
Sales, who ruptured her right Achilles' tendon Saturday against Notre Dame, finished her career with 2,178 points, one ahead of Kerry Bascom (1987-1991).
After she scored the game's first basket, Connecticut called a timeout to remove her and then stayed in their huddle to allow Beisel to make an uncontested layup and start the game with a tie.
Sauer led Connecticut with 23 points, while Williams added 21 and Abrosimova had 18 points for the Huskies, who won their fourth straight time and 16th of their last 17.
Beisel scored 32 points, giving her 1,001 for her career, and Jenn Higgins and Riley added 11 points each for the Wildcats