No. 2 UConn 70, Seton Hall 37

Anne Donovan is trying to change the culture at Seton Hall.

She’s seen modest gains over her first two years as coach.

”We’ve seen incremental improvements over last year,” Donovan

said. ”The kids we have are here and competitive and understand

what it’s going to take to turn the program around. We started the

season really strong, we’ve stumbled the last three games and this

team has a lot of fight left.”

It may take a while before she finds a way to end the Pirates’

long drought against Connecticut. Seton Hall lost to the

second-ranked Huskies 70-37 on Friday night for its 43rd loss in

the last 44 meetings with UConn.

”Moving forward, we’ve got to recruit,” Donovan said. ”We

have three post players and a walk-on. Recruiting is the name of

the game, it’s no secret. You got to recruit to compete in the Big

East.”

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Tiffany Hayes and Caroline Doty had 15

points apiece for Connecticut, which next faces No. 1 Baylor on

Dec. 18.

The nation’s top two teams met last season in Hartford and UConn

came away with a one-point victory.

”I think we have a couple things we need to work on this week

in practice,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. ”We’ll be ready by that

date.”

Even with the lopsided score, Donovan was proud of the strong

support her team received from a spirited crowd. In the past, the

Huskies would have their own cheering contingent in New Jersey that

would drown out Pirates fans.

That wasn’t the case Friday night, with a loud student section

cheering on Seton Hall.

”We’re really happy about that,” Donovan said. ”We’ve had

better support from our own students. Overall our attendance has

been up. Slowly getting it done here. It’s a process, as we’re

working hard to build a program.”

Bu the Huskies (9-0, 1-0) quickly jumped on the Pirates in the

Big East opener for both schools. UConn hit four 3-pointers during

the opening burst, and Kiah Stokes capped the run with a layup 7

minutes into the game.

”We have better offensive players than they do,” UConn coach

Geno Auriemma said. ”For us it was getting the right people enough

shots in the beginning. Our pressure got us some shots.”

It took another minute before the Pirates (5-5, 0-1) got their

first points – two free throws by Alexis Brown. Seton Hall’s first

basket didn’t come until its 14th shot with 8:27 left in the first

half when Brittany Morris converted a three-point play. That made

it 30-5. The Pirates wouldn’t get within 22 the rest of the

game.

”The press was the difference, you can’t prepare for

Connecticut’s pressure,” Donovan said. ”You can prepare with your

own players, but it doesn’t simulate what you see game time. The

difference of the game after that point was he took the press off.

We talked long and hard about taking care of the basketball. We

didn’t take care of that from the beginning to the end.”

UConn opened the season with eight straight home games and ran

through its opponents. The Huskies won by an average of 43 points,

including a 30-point rout of No. 8 Texas A&M on Tuesday

night.

Playing its first road game did give UConn a little trouble in

the second half. After Bria Hartley’s layup with 15:34 left made it

55-23, the Huskies went more than 9 minutes without a point as

Seton Hall was able to cut the deficit to 23. Hartley finally ended

the drought with a lay-in with 6:25 remaining and the Huskies

cruised the rest of the way.

”There’s no excuse for the offensive players we have to go

without scoring, that’s inexcusable,” Auriemma said. ”We’re too

good to do that. We’re too good a team to throw it at the rim and

run back.”

After taking a few days off for exams, the Huskies will travel

to Waco to face the Lady Bears before heading to the College of

Charleston.

The Huskies have won 56 straight Big East regular-season games.

It’s the fourth longest conference streak ever, trailing Texas,

which won 124 consecutive games in the Southwest Conference from

1981-1990. The Huskies have dominated the Pirates over the last 18

years, winning 43 of the last 44 meetings. The lone loss came on

Jan. 5, 1994.

Jasmine Crew scored 12 points for Seton Hall.

”It felt good to have the students come out and support us,”

Crew said. ”Hopefully they’ll continue to do that.”

The game featured the last two Olympic coaches. Donovan led the

U.S. team to gold in the 2008 Beijing Games, while Auriemma will

coach the Americans next year in London.

Doug Feinberg can be reached at

http://twitter.com/dougfeinberg