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No. 21 Cincinnati 68, Tulane 56

March 5, 2002

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CHICAGO (AP) _ Valerie King scored 23 points as No. 21 Cincinnati ended Tulane’s three-year reign as Conference USA women’s tournament champions with a 68-56 victory Monday night.

Laura Wilder had 15 points and K.B. Sharp added 14 for Cincinnati (26-4), which lost to the Green Wave in last year’s championship final.

The third-seeded Bearcats never trailed and led by as many as 20 points in the second half.

Teana McKiver and Britt Themann scored 12 points to lead Tulane (23-10), which shot 24 percent in the second half _ and 33 percent for the game.

The fifth-seeded Green Wave (23-10) beat top-seeded TCU on Sunday to advance to the finals. But Tulane had to win four games in four days for the title, and seemed fatigued at times.

The Bearcats made four turnovers in the first half as they took a 37-29 lead, paced by 13 points from King, the tournament MVP, on 3-of-5 3-pointers.

Cincinnati held Tulane to one field goal in the first 14:46 of the second half, and 3s from King and K.B. Sharp helped extend the Bearcats’ lead to 59-39 with 5:20 to go.

McKiver’s three-point play chipped the lead to 59-49 with 3:15 left, but Wilder responded with a three-point play of her own with 2:03 left.

Merrill, who needed stitches after colliding foreheads with Wilder in Sunday’s semifinals, had a headband covering a large bandage above her left eye. She scored two points in 21 minutes.

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