UConn Women Clinch Share Of Big East Regular Season Title

SportsEducationBasketballUniversity of ConnecticutFootballBig East ConferenceUniversity of Connecticut Women's Basketball Program

— There seems to be a popular misconception about Geno Auriemma, coach of the top-ranked UConn women. The guy knows a lot. He's in the Hall of Fame.

But it turns out he may not know everything there is to know about everything.

• Pictures: UConn 87, Syracuse 66
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• Box Score: UConn vs. Syracuse

Wednesday morning, he watched Maya Moore miss a few shots at the team's shootaround and told anyone who cared to listen that the reigning national player of the year would have a bad game against Syracuse at the Carrier Dome.

"Maya wants to do everything great and it's hard for a kid her age to do that," Auriemma said at the time.

By now, you figure Geno would know better than to doubt perhaps the nation's purest talent. She had a bad morning. But the night belonged to her.

"She was phenomenal tonight," Auriemma said. "It was an unbelievable performance. She's a unique player, a unique individual."

Moore, who scored 40 against the Orange last year, had 38 points and a career-high 20 rebounds in 32 scintillating minutes to lead UConn to an 87-66 victory before 3,230.

Moore was 12-for-19 from the floor, 4-for-6 on three-pointers. She hit 10 of 11 free throws and had 14 defensive rebounds, three assists, two blocks and three steals.

"A monster game," Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman said.

The only previous 30-20 game in the UConn women's program was produced by Rebecca Lobo.

UConn needed Moore's performance because the Orange turned Tina Charles into an offensive accessory part, holding her to a season-low three points and five rebounds in 25 minutes. Charles did have five blocks.

But even when Charles is not in charge, there's still a major fire to stamp out.

And who has the power to stop Moore?

"What was I most happy about? The rebounds," Moore said. "I usually hear in practice that I can't rebound, I'm a bad rebounder. It's nice to come out here and do what I know I can do."

Incredibly, Charles, soon to be UConn's all-time scoring and rebounding leader, took only four shots.

But sophomore Tiffany Hayes scored 22 points to help UConn (28-0, 14-0) to its 67th consecutive victory and at least a share of the Big East regular season championship.

"There are times when I can see in Tiffany's eyes that when she catches the ball good things are going to happen," Auriemma said.

Rebecca Hall, Erica Morrow and Juanita Ward each scored 11 for the Orange (19-8, 6-8).

Hayes and Moore scored 37 of UConn's 49 first-half points.

"It was just a matter of executing what we do in practice," Hayes said.

Charles scored only one point in the 18 first-half minutes and didn't get her first rebound until 4:23 remained, long after Moore had her double-double.

"Tina was in the lane, but they were committed to putting a couple of people around here," Auriemma said. "There weren't a whole lot of shots to get because the other two guys were taking them all. But she played great defense in the first half. There were times when you couldn't get near the basket against us."

Hayes scored 12 of UConn's first 19, including 10 straight points that carried the Huskies from a 9-3 lead to 19-9 with 13:21 to play. Moore then scored the next nine for UConn, which led 28-19 with 7:45 left in the half.

Hayes and Moore combined for 27 consecutive points over 12:44 after a Charles free throw tied the score at 3.

"To be honest, we are not even aware things like that happen," Moore said. "We're just out there attacking, trying to be aggressive."

After baskets by Kaili McLaren and Caroline Doty, UConn had its first 11-point lead (34-23). Moore's two free throws with 1:23 to play widened the margin to 20 at 49-29.

Syracuse committed only six first-half turnovers. But even without much help from Charles, UConn crushed the Orange on the boards (50-30).

The game was played in relative calm until Morrow was ejected with 12 minutes to play for taking a swing at Hayes during a scrum for a free ball. Told by the UConn bench that Morrow had thrown a punch, the officials turned to the television monitor and saw enough proof.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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SportsEducationBasketballUniversity of ConnecticutFootballBig East ConferenceUniversity of Connecticut Women's Basketball Program
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