NORFOLK, Va. — Up comfortably at
the half, it would have been easy for Connecticut to coast to another
victory. Instead, Geno Auriemma's team opened the second half with one
of its most impressive runs during the remarkable 73-game win streak.
Leading by 23 at the break, top-seeded
UConn scored 21 of the first 23 points of the second half to bury
Southern in a 95-39 victory in the first round of the women's NCAA
"That first five minutes was about as
good as I've seen us play at any time all season," Auriemma said.
"That's the kind of basketball we like to see."
And it only got better.
The Huskies matched their best
defensive half in a NCAA tournament game by holding Southern (23-9) to
10 points on 4-for-30 shooting (13.3 percent) in the second half. The
Huskies, sloppy at times in the first half but comfortably ahead because
of a vast talent advantage, weren't happy in the locker room at the
break, and the Jaguars paid.
"A lot of times with our team, it's
not so much making these huge adjustments and necessarily changing what
we do," said Maya Moore, who scored 21 points. "It's just the continual
pounding and pressure and attack mentality that we put on teams. I think
they weren't ready for it."
Tina Charles led UConn with 22 points.
The senior center made her first nine shots before missing a baseline
jumper for the Huskies (34-0), who have won every game during their
winning streak by double digits. UConn hasn't lost since falling to
Stanford in the 2008 national semifinals.
The Huskies, who arrived having won
their last 10 first-round games by an average of nearly 49 points, led
52-29 at halftime and actually looked pretty sloppy at times. They had
12 turnovers, one more than the Jaguars, but easily dominated in every
"They were just longer, they were
taller than us," Jaguars forward Freda Allen said.
Hannah Kador led the Jaguars with 10
points, but shot just 3-for-22.
Southern coach Sandy Pugh said her
team stepped out of character after the half.
"We really got away from our offense.
We've never been a team that can come down and jack the basketball up
and that's what we were doing in the second half," she said.
Moore had 17 points and four
3-pointers by halftime, and the Huskies featured Charles scoring on the
inside in the spree to open the second half. The 6-foot-4 center scored
eight points in the run, all from in close, and Caroline Doty hit a pair
That boosted their lead to 73-31 with
15 minutes left, and Auriemma emptied his bench shortly thereafter.
Eleven Huskies got into the game, and nine played at least 10 minutes.
UConn also was credited with 27
assists on 32 field goals.
"That's the way that we love to
play," Moore said.
Tiffany Hayes and Kalana Greene added
12 each for the Huskies, who shot 61.5 percent, outrebounded the
Southwestern Athletic Conference champs 52-22 and limited them to 23.1
percent shooting. Connecticut also had a 22-4 advantage in points at the
Southern actually led 2-0 after a
short bank shot by Allen, but the Huskies immediately asserted
themselves with a 15-2 burst. When consecutive 3-pointers pulled the
Jaguars within 20-12, Connecticut got points from seven players in an
18-4 run and coasted.
Southern, making its fourth
appearance in the tournament and second in Old Dominion's Constant
Center, had a similar experience the first time: a 96-27 loss to Duke in
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