No. 2 Connecticut 57, No. 17 West Virginia 51

No. 2 Connecticut 57, No. 17 West Virginia 51

Published Feb. 9, 2011 3:16 a.m. ET

When West Virginia couldn't make shots, things fell apart. When No. 2 Connecticut needed to seal the deal, the Huskies turned to Maya Moore.

Moore scored 27 points, including several key baskets down the stretch, and the Huskies needed a second-half comeback to hold off No. 17 West Virginia 57-51 Tuesday night.

Moore surpassed 20 points for the ninth time in 10 games.

''There were times when we just couldn't get anything going on the offensive end,'' Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said. ''Maya just made great individual plays. Without somebody like that, a night like tonight probably turns into a loss. Tonight it all fell on Maya's shoulders.''


Connecticut (23-1, 11-0 Big East) overcame its second halftime deficit of the season and some sloppy play to beat West Virginia for the 23rd straight time.

West Virginia (20-5, 6-5) couldn't keep the momentum of a good first half going and lost for the fourth time in five games. Now coach Mike Carey believes the Mountaineers need a strong finish to the season to even make the NCAA tournament.

Freshman Stefanie Dolson added 10 points for Connecticut.

Madina Ali led West Virginia with 17 points and Liz Repella added 13.

Connecticut trailed 29-27 at halftime and didn't take its first lead until early in the second half. Moore scored 15 points after halftime, including eight straight for the Huskies over a three-minute span near the end to dash West Virginia's hopes for the biggest upset in school history.

''I thought that was a really good sign to see the way we stuck together,'' Moore said. ''Not for a second did anyone doubt that we were going to make our run and come away with the win. I was really pleased to see that, especially at a really tough place to play.''

West Virginia lost its second straight at home after winning a school-record 31 straight on its court.

''I told the girls 'That's not good enough. We lost,''' Carey said. ''We stayed focused on our game plan about 30 minutes of the 40.''

Still, Connecticut was held to its lowest point total of the season, falling short of their 63-point effort last month against Rutgers.

The Mountaineers didn't have much success clamping down on Moore, but they held third-leading scorer Bria Hartley to six points and second-leading scorer Tiffany Hayes to four. Hayes fouled out and Hartley finished with four fouls.

The game matched up two of the nation's top three teams in scoring defense. But West Virginia's defensive intensity took the energy out of the Mountaineers on the offensive end. They went nearly 7 minutes without a field goal spanning both halves.

West Virginia shot 30 percent (16 of 54) for the game, making 5 field goals after halftime.

The Mountaineers have reached 60 points only once in their last five games.

''Our girls played hard, and it's the same old story, we struggled to score,'' Carey said. ''And anytime you hold a Connecticut team to 57, you should have a pretty good chance of winning.''

Connecticut went ahead for the first time, 32-29, on a 3-pointer by Kelly Faris with 17:39 remaining.

The Huskies didn't go ahead to stay until Moore came off a screen and hit a 15-footer for a 38-36 lead with 12:01 left.

Repella, West Virginia's leading scorer, had eight points in the first 5 minutes of the game but she didn't score again until hitting a 3-pointer midway through the second half. Moore soon answered with her own 3-pointer to start a 7-0 run that put the Huskies ahead 47-39 with 6:15 remaining.

Asya Bussie made two free throws and Repella hit a jumper to bring West Virginia within 52-47 with 4 minutes left, but the Mountaineers got no closer.

''I thought the team defense was a lot better in the second half, just communicating on the screens and switches,'' Moore said. ''That's what's really the key to our team. Our offense is jump-started by our defense. The way we locked down in the second half kind of gave us a little pep in our step on the offensive end.''

Connecticut committed 12 of its 17 turnovers in the first half. Its outside shooters had trouble finding the net and the Huskies didn't get many early second chances.

Connecticut made just four of its first 11 shots, the Mountaineers went hard after rebounds and led 20-12 after a Sarah Miles bank shot with 8:04 left until halftime.

Auriemma was animated during the ensuing timeout. Moore responded with eight of her team's final 15 points of the half. Despite shooting 52 percent (11 of 21) in the half, the Huskies went into the lockerroom behind.

''I thought we settled for too many jump shots in the first half,'' Auriemma said. ''We were looking for the open 30-footer.''