SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Tina Charles
had 18 points and eight rebounds to become top-ranked Connecticut’s
career leader in both categories in a 76-51 win over No. 6 Notre Dame on
Monday night, leaving the Huskies one shy of tying their NCAA women’s
record for consecutive victories.
Connecticut (30-0, 16-0), which
reached 30 wins for the fifth straight season, can match the record of
70 consecutive wins set by the Huskies from 2001-2003 in the Big East
tournament quarterfinals on Sunday. It is the eighth time the Huskies
have gone unbeaten in a Big East regular season.
Every win in the streak has been by
The loss dropped the Fighting Irish
(25-4, 12-4) into a fourth-place tie with No. 16 St. John’s, but the
Irish will be the fifth seed in the tournament because of a loss to the
Charles passed Nykesha Sales (1995-98)
as the school’s all-time leading scorer and Rebecca Lobo (1992-95) as
its leading rebounder.
Maya Moore had 17 points and nine
rebounds as all five Connecticut starters finished in double figures.
Tiffany Hayes added 13 points, Kalana Greene 12 and Caroline Doty 11.
The Huskies got just five points from their bench.
Devereaux Peters matched her career
high in leading the Irish with 15 points, and Becca Bruszewski also had
15 as the Irish got 31 points from their bench.
The Irish, who appeared intimidated in
falling behind 24-4 en route to a 70-46 loss at UConn on Jan. 16, their
first setback of the season, got off to a much better start on Monday. The Irish
closed to 16-15 when Bruszewski hit a 3-pointer midway through the
But the Huskies quickly responded with
a 10-0 run capped by a three-point play by Doty that gave UConn a 26-15
lead. The Huskies extended the lead to 36-23 at halftime as the Irish
frequently struggled to get quality shots, repeatedly firing just
before the shot-clock buzzer.
The Irish didn’t register their first
assist until Peters scored inside on a pass from Ashley Barlow with 5
minutes left in the first half.
New Notre Dame football coach Brian
Kelly spoke at halftime to the sellout crowd of 9,149, the sixth this
season for the Irish and 12th in the 33-year history of the program. He
praised the fans for their support of the women’s basketball team.
“We’re the Fighting Irish. We’re
going to keep fighting. This game isn’t over yet,” he said to loud
While Kelly’s word inspired the
crowd, he couldn’t help the Irish. The Huskies ended the first half on a
5-0 run, then opened the second half with an 8-2 burst, moving ahead
44-27 on a free throw by Moore. After a free throw by Skylar Diggins cut
Connecticut’s lead to 46-32, Charles scored consecutive baskets inside
to spark a 13-0 run that put the game away.
Notre Dame simply couldn’t live up to
its reputation as streak busters. The women’s basketball team ended a
30-game winning streak by UConn in 2001. The Irish also stopped
Oklahoma’s 47-game winning streak in football in 1957, and UCLA’s
88-game winning streak in men’s basketball in 1974.
But it never came close to
challenging the Huskies in two games this season, as the Irish never
held a lead against UConn.
Notre Dame, which shot a season-low
27 percent in the first game against Connecticut, didn’t do much better
on Monday, shooting 31 percent.
Notre Dame had won 14 straight games
at home since losing 79-71 to Minnesota in the first round of the NCAA
tournament last season. UConn has won 27 straight road games and
improved to 22-0 against ranked teams during the winning streak and to
12-0 against top 10 teams.
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