No. 1 Connecticut 87, Syracuse 66
Three wins short of tying an NCAA record for consecutive victories, Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma has all but run out of things to say about his unstoppable Huskies.
Maya Moore had a season-high 38 points and a career-high 20 rebounds to help UConn beat Syracuse 87-66 on Wednesday night for its 67th straight victory.
Sophomore Tiffany Hayes added 22 points for the Huskies (28-0, 14-0 Big East), who have beaten Syracuse (19-8, 6-8) 18 straight times and are within three of tying their own record for consecutive wins at 70.
``I don't have anything new to add,'' Auriemma said after the Huskies clinched a tie for the Big East regular-season title. ``The number is just a number. People bring it up. It's probably bigger to everybody else but us. I guess the only thing I can say is the sophomores on our team have never lost a game since they started playing college basketball. So if you ask them about the streak, they don't know what you're talking about.
``For them, this is what happens. You play, you win, you play, you win, you play, you win,'' Auriemma said. ``When the time comes and we lose, I think that's when they'll really appreciate what it is that's going on right now. Me personally, I'll be more excited Saturday if we win the Big East championship.''
UConn, which has won every game by double digits during its remarkable run, also is within two games of its sixth undefeated regular season. The Huskies, seeking their 18th Big East regular-season title, finish against two ranked teams: No. 13 Georgetown at home and at No. 7 Notre Dame. They have won all 20 of their games against ranked opponents during the streak by an average of 26 points.
Moore became just the second Connecticut player to reach the 30-point, 20-rebound threshold in a single game. Rebecca Lobo had 32 points and 21 rebounds against Boston College on Feb. 16, 1994.
``Hearing 'You can't rebound, you're not a good rebounder' every day in practice, it feels good to come out and actually do what I know I can do,'' Moore said. ``We're just out there trying to attack every time and being aggressive.''
Erica Morrow, the Orange's second-leading scorer, was ejected for fighting with 12:00 left after colliding with Hayes and taking a swing during a scramble for a loose ball. NCAA rules state that a player ejected for fighting will serve a one-game suspension.
Hayes said it seemed to be a misunderstanding.
``We were both scrapping for the ball,'' said Hayes, who was left with a swollen lip after the two players' heads collided. ``I guess she thought I did it on purpose, so she took a swing at me. I was already leaning back from the hit in the head, so she missed.''
The Huskies are so powerful they didn't even need much of a contribution from their leading scorer. Tina Charles had a season-low three points, getting her only basket of the game with 13:30 remaining. That moved her into a tie with Lobo for fifth place on the school's all-time scoring list at 2,133 points.
Morrow, Juanita Ward, and Elashier Hall each had 11 points to lead Syracuse. Nicole Michael, who was riding a streak of three straight double-doubles and had averaged 19.1 points and 10.6 rebounds in the Orange's previous seven games, had just nine points and four rebounds.
Hayes and Moore combined for 37 points in the first half to help the Huskies pull away from the overmatched Orange.
Hayes scored 10 straight points to put UConn up by double digits in less than 7 minutes of play. She completed her personal streak with a 3-pointer from the top of the key and a fastbreak layup to give the Huskies a 19-9 lead at 13:21.
Syracuse rallied with a 10-4 run, and Michael's 3 from the top of the key had the Orange back within 23-19 midway through the period.
That's as close as Syracuse would get the remainder of the game.
Hayes and Moore, who scored 27 straight points between them in a span of nearly 12 minutes in the opening half, combined for 10 more as Connecticut closed with a 15-6 spurt to lead 49-33 at the break.
UConn limited Syracuse to 36.4 percent shooting (12 of 33), held a 24-10 edge in the paint, and did not allow any second-chance points in dominating the boards 30-11, 10-2 on the offensive end, in the first half. That was enough for Syracuse men's coach Jim Boeheim, who was seated at one end of the Carrier Dome court that bears his name. He left.
``We got outrebounded a whole lot, and that affected the outcome of the game,'' Michael said. ``We did everything else pretty good.''