No. 1 Connecticut 66, No. 25 St. John's 52
Tina Charles saved one of her best games for her final one on campus.
Charles had tears in her eyes as her name was placed on the wall at Gampel Pavilion in a pregame ceremony, then scored 25 points and grabbed a career-high 21 rebounds to lead the top-ranked Huskies over No. 25 St. John's 66-52 on Saturday.
``It was Tina 1, St. John's 0,'' said UConn coach Geno Auriemma. ``That was kind of how it went today. She played great at both ends, and it couldn't have come on a better day.''
It was the 64th consecutive win for UConn (25-0 overall, 12-0 Big East), and 19th in a row over teams ranked in the Top 25. The Huskies are six victories short of matching their NCAA and school record of 70 straight set between 2001 and 2003.
Caroline Doty and Maya Moore each had 12 points, and Moore added 11 rebounds and seven assists for UConn.
Nadirah McKenith had 15 points and 10 rebounds to lead St. John's (20-5, 8-4), which lost for the just the second time in nine games. The Red Storm have dropped the last 26 meetings with the Huskies.
Charles is the 15th women's player to have her name added to the Huskies of Honor list, and just the second to receive the honor during her playing career.
St. John's stayed with the Huskies for most of the first half. UConn hit just one of its first nine shots and trailed 13-11 almost 6 minutes into the game. A 9-0 UConn run gave them the lead for good, but the Red Storm stayed close by collapsing on Charles and double-teaming Moore whenever she touched the ball.
``It worked a little bit at the beginning, and then it didn't,'' said St. John's Da'Shena Stevens, who had seven points, but hit just three of her 13 shots from the field.
The Huskies shot just 32 percent in the first half and starters Kalana Greene, Caroline Doty and Tiffany Hayes were a combined 1 for 16 from the field.
St. John's led the game for 2:43, the most the Huskies have trailed since being down for over 16 minutes to No. 2 Stanford.
``I hope it shows our kids that we can compete with the top teams in the nation,'' said St. John's coach Kim Barnes Arico. ``Obviously we need to get better and there are things we can improve on, but we can compete against top teams, and that hopefully will give them a little lift of confidence.''
Lorin Dixon's shot at the halftime buzzer gave the Huskies a 34-26 lead, UConn's lowest output in any first half this season.
Charles, playing her final game at Gampel, scored eight points as UConn opened the second half on a 10-2 run to put the game out of reach.
``Somebody had to get it done,'' said Charles. ``I was just going out there and doing everything I could to keep us in the game.
The Huskies stretched the lead to 20 with 8 minutes to go and led by as many as 23.
Charles 21 rebounds leaves her with 1,226, just 42 behind Rebecca Lobo for the most in the program's history. It was the first 20-rebound game for a UConn player since Swin Cash had 20 against West Virginia in 2001.
``I am really proud of the way she carried us for most of the game,'' said Moore. ``We have to be confident in her, and to know that when we give it to her she's going to score, and when she does that it just builds our team, builds us up.''
The 14-point loss for St. John's came on the heels of a 35-point win over Louisville on Wednesday, a victory that gave the Red Storm 20 wins for the third time in Kim Barnes Arico's eight-years as head coach at the school. It was the second fastest that St. John's has achieved the 20-win plateau with the only quicker time coming back in 1982-83.
The Red Storm, who were picked 12th in the preseason conference poll, have garnered national attention earning a spot in the Top 25 the past two weeks. It's only the fourth time in school history that St. John's has been ranked.