The crowd counted down the final seconds of her collegiate career and appropriately enough, the ball was in Sue Birds hands.
The former Christ the King standout capped a brilliant four years by helping lead the University of Connecticut Huskies to a perfect 39-0 season by defeating Oklahoma 82-70 Sunday in San Antonio, Tex It was UConns second NCAA championship in three years.
As the final buzzer sounded and her teammates rushed onto the court, Bird kissed the ball and slumped over as tears welled in her eyes. The realization of the awesome accomplishment the finality was too much for her to bear.
It hit me in waves, the Syosset native said after the game. Im thinking, I have practice tomorrow. Oh wait, we just won and were undefeated.
The next step for Bird, who had 14 points and was voted to the all-Final Four team, but struggled in the title game, is clear: the WNBA, where she is likely to be the top pick in the draft later this month.
St. Johns 7, West Virginia 2. Apparently sparked by the ejections of head coach Ed Blankmeyer, who was tossed in the fifth inning for arguing with the umpires, and starter Brian Dorsey, who was ejected after hitting a batter in the sixth inning, the Red Storm rallied from a 1-0 deficit to score three runs in the top of the sixth inning to salvage a split of a Big East doubleheader Saturday in Morganstown.
Seniors Charlie Bilezikjian and Jason Kane hit back-to-back doubles to tie the game. Kane scored after a pair of passed balls and Asa Grunewald added an RBI single to center to give St. Johns (10-12, 4-3) a 3-1 lead.
The Red Storm added three more runs in the top of the seventh inning with Chad Cambra hitting a two-run single up the middle and then scoring on Bryan Hedgecocks double to the left field wall.
Dorsey picked up the win, improving to 2-1. He allowed one run on six hits in 5.2 innings, walking two and striking out three.
Next up for the Red Storm is a three-game weekend set at conference foe Notre Dame.
West Virginia 4, St. Johns 2. Mountaineers designated hitter Kurtis Clinton hit a two-out, three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth to break a 1-1 tie. Charlie Bilezikjian fell to 2-3 with the loss. He threw six innings, giving up four runs on seven hits, walking two and striking out three.
Pittsburgh 12, St. Johns 8. The Red Storm jumped ahead 5-2 before the Panthers answered with eight unanswered runs four each in the fifth and sixth innings to take a 10-5 lead.
St. Johns got within 10-8 on Blake Hershelmans second home run of the game, a three-run blast to left-center field, but Pittsburgh added insurance runs in the seventh and eight innings to secure a split in a doubleheader last Thursday in Pittsburgh.
Greg Holmes dropped to 2-1, allowing nine runs, seven earned, on nine hits in 5.2 innings.
St. Johns 13, Pittsburgh 6. In the opener of the doubleheader, the Red Storm scored five runs in the top of the first and seven in the fifth inning to cruise to victory. Bilezikjian was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and Jim Martin was 2-for-3 with a bases-clearing double in the first inning.
Jim Wladyka improved to 1-3, giving up five runs, four earned, in six hits in six innings.
Queens College 5, New York Tech 2. Fran Piazza was 2-for-4 and Danielle Battaglia was 1-for-3 with two RBIs for the Knights, who swept the New York Collegiate Athletic Conference doubleheader Monday.
Queens College 14, New York Tech 6. Crystal Wilson went 4-for-4 with two RBIs and Battaglia was 3-for-5 with three RBIs to lead Queens (5-9, 3-3). New York Tech dropped to 5-12, 4-4.
CCNY 9, York 0. York transfer Kinta Gumbs beat former teammate Ramon Smart in first doubles, 6-3, 6-0, as CCNY improved to 2-1, 1-1 in CUNY. York dropped to 0-2.
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.
©2002 Community News Group
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