No. 1 Connecticut 60, No. 9 West Virginia 32

UConn finally celebrated – just a little bit.

The top-ranked Huskies danced and cheered after they cruised to
their 72nd straight win and 16th Big East tournament championship
with a 60-32 victory over No. 9 West Virginia on Tuesday night.

It was a much more festive atmosphere than the night before when
they broke their own NCAA record for consecutive wins.

“We had a lot of minature goals during the entire season,”
said Kalana Greene, who scored 15 points and earned most
outstanding player honors of the tournament. “Every championship
that’s thrown at us we want to win it. The streak can be thrown at
us and if we don’t win the Big East championship it doesn’t mean
anything.”

The next challenge – if anything can truly be called a challenge
for these Huskies – is the NCAA tournament. With six more
victories, UConn will have its second consecutive national title
and seventh overall.

Greene made her first seven shots and grabbed 12 rebounds. She
provided the same offensive spark she’s been giving the Huskies all
season.

“I thought all year long Kalana’s been really consistent,”
UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “Whether it’s a defensive spurt,
offensive spurt, or rebounding.”

The Huskies have won five of the last six conference tournament
titles and enter the NCAAs unbeaten for the fifth time in school
history. UConn went on to win the national championship in 1995,
2002, and 2009. In 1996-97 they lost to Tennessee in the regional
final. In all, 11 teams have gone through the regular season
unbeaten with five of them winning the national title.

UConn (33-0) stands six wins short of becoming the first team to
go through consecutive seasons unbeaten. The Huskies won 71
straight games from Nov. 9, 2001, to March 11, 2003.

The Huskies, who have won both the regular season and conference
tournament title the last three years and 14 times in school
history, held West Virginia to the lowest total in a Big East
championship game.

“If you can hold Connecticut to 60 points with all the players
they have you should be in the game,” West Virginia coach Mike
Carey said. “We struggled to score.”

With All-Americans Maya Moore and Tina Charles having off-games,
Greene and Tiffany Hayes carried the offense. Hayes finished with
15 points. Charles had 12 and Moore 10, but they combined to make
just three of their first 22 shots.

UConn improved to 14-0 against top-10 opponents, winning by an
average of 26.3 points.

The Huskies have now won the last 22 meetings with West
Virginia, including an 80-47 rout at the XL Center on Feb. 2. In
that game the Mountaineers played tough for 25 minutes before
succumbing to the Huskies.

On Tuesday night, UConn once again jumped out quickly on West
Virginia.

The Huskies, who have won every game during its record streak by
double figures, used a 20-4 run in the first half to turn a
one-point lead into a 27-10 advantage with 6:42 left. The
Mountaineers wouldn’t wilt, using their tenacious defense which
allowed only 51.5 points coming into the game, to stick around.

West Virginia (28-5) answered with a 18-6 spurt of its own
spanning the half to close to 33-28 on Natalie Burton’s free throw
with 15:32 left in the game. Liz Repella had eight points during
the burst, including a 3-pointer from the top of the key that hit
the front rim, bounced straight up and then in that made it 33-27
UConn.

The Huskies then went on one of their typical runs, scoring 27
of the next 29 points to end any hopes of the upset.

“We cut it to five and had a couple bad shots, and they got a
couple offensive rebounds,” Carey said. “Then the game got very,
very physical and we’re not going to win that battle with
them.”

The Huskies held West Virginia without a point for nearly the
final 11 minutes until a meaningless layup with 28 seconds
left.

“We had breakdowns on defense, offense,” said Liz Repella, who
led West Virginia with 10 points. “You can’t have those breakdowns
and play with UConn.”

Greene had six points during the spurt, and also a nifty pass to
Moore for a layup off an offensive rebound that made it 49-30 with
8:51 left.

“She’s a very critical part of our team,” Moore said of
Greene. “She can do a lot of different things on the court. She’s
our safety net who doesn’t get the credit she deserves, but it’s
great she’s being recognized for all the things she does.”

Charles, who had missed seven of her first eight shots, hit
three foul line jumpers and a layup during the burst.

Caroline Doty was in her customary place in the starting lineup
after suffering a scary head and neck injury during the Huskies’
NCAA-record 71st straight victory Monday night. The sophomore guard
was inadvertently elbowed in the head by Notre Dame’s Ashley Barlow
with 50 seconds left in Monday night’s game.

Doty didn’t show any outward signs of the injury, but was
ineffective in her 16 minutes, scoring just one point.

West Virginia was making only its second trip to the
championship game.

“You saw what they’ve done the last three nights,” said
Auriemma of the Mountaineers. “DePaul’s a good offensive team,
they shut Rutgers down and did essentially the same thing against
us. I wouldn’t want to play them in the NCAA tournament.”