Jan. 27, 2008
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Notre Dame stopped Maya Moore after she scored the first 15 points for Connecticut. The Fighting Irish never could come up with an answer for Tina Charles, though.
Charles scored 22 points, including nine during a decisive 22-4 first-half run, to lead the top-ranked Huskies to an 81-64 victory over No. 16 Notre Dame on Sunday night.
The Irish tried to double team Charles in the post, but she frequently got the shot off before the second defender could arrive.
"Tina did a great job of turning away from the double teams in the first half," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "We got it to her at just the right time and she got herself in great position."
Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said her team's couldn't slow Charles.
"She was the difference," McGraw said. "I think they went to her six times in a row and we were trying to get the top of the zone down to prevent the ball from getting into her, but we weren't able to get that point across."
With the score tied at 21 after Melissa D'Amico's rebound basket with 11:13 left in the first half, UConn (19-0, 6-0 Big East) took control as the Irish (15-5, 3-3) went 10:52 without a field goal, going 0-for-12 from the field during the run.
UConn went through a bit of a drought as well, making just one basket during a four-minute span. But Brittany Hunter, who missed the last three games because of soreness in her surgically repaired right knee, got the Huskies going with a pair of baskets inside. Then Charles, who had eight rebounds, scored nine points in 3:42, putting UConn ahead 41-27 with 1:04 left before intermission.
"Coach always tells the post players to be aggressive in the lane and dominate as much as you can, and that's what I did," Charles said.
Lindsay Schrader hit a 14-foot jumper with 21 seconds left to end the Irish drought. UConn, which was 9-of-18 from the field during the run, opened a 43-25 lead when Ketia Swanier made a pair of free throws and led 43-27 at halftime.
Notre Dame closed to 12 points twice in the second half, the final time when Tulyah Gaines hit a 14-foot jumper to cut the lead to 58-46. They had a chance to cut it to 10 points once, but Barlow missed a jumper. Renee Montgomery hit a 3-pointer on the other end to ignite a 12-0 UConn run and put the game away.
"That really did kill the momentum for us," Barlow said.
Connecticut, which shot a season-low 38 percent in its 82-71 win over No. 3 North Carolina on Monday, returned to form against the Irish, shooting 48 percent. The Irish, who started the game by making 6-of-9 shots, shot 39 percent.
Moore scored the first 15 points for UConn on 5-of-5 shooting, including 4-of-4 from 3-point range, and didn't score again as the Irish used box-and-one and triangle-and-two defenses to contain her.
Auriemma said he was glad to see Notre Dame go to the junk defenses.
"It's good for our guys to see it because I think it's what they're going to see more of down the road," he said.
Hunter added 11 points for UConn.
The Irish, playing before their second home sellout of the season and fifth ever, fell to 1-5 at home against teams top-ranked teams.
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame loses back-to-back games for the first time all season ... all five Irish losses have comes to teams that were ranked in one or both major national polls at tipoff, including three at the hands of top-five opponents (#3 Maryland, #3 Tennessee, #1 Connecticut) ... Notre Dame becomes the first team this season to outrebound Connecticut, with no prior Huskies opponent getting closer than a minus-5 rebound margin (Virginia on Dec. 5; #3 North Carolina on Jan. 21); UConn came into Sunday's game ranked first in the nation in rebounding margin (+16.9 rpg) ... Notre Dame drops to 1-5 all-time at home against top-ranked opponents, with Sunday's game the first against a No. 1 team since Dec. 31, 2005 (62-51 loss to Tennessee) ... Connecticut wins its fifth consecutive game over the Irish and improves to 21-4 all-time against Notre Dame (winning by the exact same margin as the teams' last meeting exactly one year ago) ... Notre Dame had at least four double-figure scorers for the 11th time this season, falling to 10-1 in those contests ... the Irish bench has outscored its opponents in all 20 games this season and is averaging 30.6 points per night ... Notre Dame now has committed fewer than 20 turnovers in 35 of its last 36 games (exception: 20 giveaways on Jan. 8 at Louisville) ... the Irish just missed their best free throw performance of the season, trailing only a .944 outing (17-of-18) vs. Villanova on Jan. 16 ... freshman forward Devereaux Peters collected her first career double-double with 10 points and a season-high 12 rebounds, matching the most by any Irish player this season (12 boards by junior guard Lindsay Schrader at Bowling Green on Dec. 5) ... Schrader dished out a career-high six assists, one more than she had against Saint Francis (Pa.) on Dec. 29 ... Sunday's capacity crowd of 11,418 at the Joyce Center marked the fifth sellout in school history and second this season (Jan. 5 vs. Tennessee); this year joins the 2000-01 campaign as the only ones to feature more than one sellout in a season ... Sunday's crowd also represented the first time the Irish have had three games with 10,000+ fans in one season (also 10,825 vs. Michigan on Dec. 2).