· UConn had five players score double-figure points marking the sixth time in 13 games this season they have achieved that feat. UConn had five players score in double-figures seven times in 38 games last year.
· With UConn leading 43-41, the Huskies went on an 18-3 run over a 4:28 stretch in the second half to open its lead to 16 points. Renee Montgomery had 10 points during the run.
· UConn held LSU without a field goal for a 5:30 stretch in the second half.
· UConn has shot at least .500 from the field in the first half in six straight games.
· UConn’s 76 points marked its lowest single-game output this season.
· UConn’s 41-33 halftime lead was its smallest this season since being tied with Georgia Tech 34-34 in the season opener on November 16, 2008.
University of Connecticut
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When it was 45-43, Renee (Montgomery) took the game over, again. Is there anything out there that surprises you anymore?
“Not really. I can sense it; I can see it in her eyes. We just want to get a quick screen on the ball and its really hard for them to keep her from getting a 3 or that little 17-footer, and we’ve gone to it every time. When she gets it going, she makes a bunch. She’s the best guard out there right now. I don’t know how long it’s going to last, but now she’s doing everything we want her to do.”
Did the resiliency of the LSU team, with all those freshmen, surprise you at all?
“I thought, looking at our players, that when you give a young team a lot of opportunities, you also are giving them confidence. I thought we gave them a lot of opportunities. In the first half, I think they made four jump shots and scored 30 points, so that’s a confidence builder for them, between putting them on the free throw line and getting second shots. They were able to feed off of that. I think that’s something young teams are looking for when they go on the road. They’re looking for a little help, and I think we gave them some in the first half and again in the second half. We were up by 17 in the second half and then let them back in. We started to do some dumb things and to their credit, they stayed in the game.”
You were able to limit Allison Hightower’s looks in the second half. What was the key to that?
“I thought Lorin (Dixon) did the best job of anybody on her, even though she’s smaller. She was able to force her to go places where she didn’t want to go and catch it where she didn’t want to catch it. We spent a lot of time playing zone, too, and she wasn’t as active in that as she was in man-to-man. I think the different looks and different matchups were effective, because I think it wore her down a little bit.”
Do you think that Kalana (Greene) played the best today that she has since returning from her injury?
“Earlier this week, somebody said, I think it might have been Kalana, that she’s a pure shooter. I don’t know that anyone else would say that, but she said it. We’ve all been arguing with her, saying no, you’re not, you’re a slasher, a rebounder and today she actually was that. That’s the Kalana we need to have and that’s the Kalana I remember.”
What is it about Kaili (McLaren) and playing against LSU?
“That’s a good question. They play a sagging man-to-man defense, so there’s opportunities for her. When we get her to the high post, they all worry about what’s going on in the low post, and when she’s in the low post, she’s very difficult to double-team. What it is about those games, I don’t know. I thought that she was the best big man today, passing the ball, shooting the ball and just making plays.”
What was the toughest challenge tonight?
“Allowing second shots was the biggest thing. In the first half they had about 11 offensive rebounds and once we eliminated their second shot opportunities, the game was in our hands.”
You guys did a nice job on Allison Hightower in the second half, what was the difference between the first and second half?
“We played smarter. In the first half, we knew what she was going to do and we let her do it. In the second half we had a lot more common sense when we were guarding her and played more aggressive on defense.”
This was really your first true test of the season, this game was close for most of the game, how did you think your team responded?
“We responded well. When it was time for us and win the game and to make the plays to win, we did it. We hit the shots and got the rebounds we needed to take the lead and eventually win the game.”
Does the team need to win these types of games in order to progress?
“We have to win, period, for a lot of different reasons just to keep our momentum going. We might not have played great, but we still won and we found a way to win so that’s always good in situations like these.”
What sparked the run in the second half?
“I think we got some transition baskets. We weren’t really getting a lot of transition points at all and I think we were just pushing. Even if we didn’t score in transition, we were pushing it, getting open looks, and knocking them in this time actually.”
Were you feeling it pretty good during that run?
“Yeah, I think I got a lot more open looks. Coach made some adjustments and I got a lot more open looks and they went it.”
Coach Chancellor just said that you might be a point guard on the next Olympic team. How does that make you feel?
“Wow, I don’t even know what to think. That’s a tremendous honor that he thinks that much of me to think that I can play for our country. That might be one of the biggest compliments I got in a long time.”
Are you ready for BIG EAST play?
“It’s a perfect time for BIG EAST play. We’ve got some kinks to work out and hopefully we can get those fixed by the time we get going next week. It will be fun. The BIG EAST is going to be tough. It’s going to be fun though because I think we have a competitive league this year and that’s when we, I think, do our best [when we’re] under pressure and we’re competing.”
Tough game for both freshman. How do you help them deal with a game like this?
“With Tiff [Hayes], I think just some of the little layups, you know she’ll make those. She just has to keep taking them. With Caroline [Doty] – you know it’s just that point of the season when expectations are still high with Coach and with our team. They’re just getting used to it, building on those expectations through December and into BIG EAST play. It’s just hard. You have to have endurance and she’ll get better.”
Coach played you 40 minutes tonight.
“I guess he was happy with how I was playing out there. I was just trying to do my best and stay strong because we were running there. We can be a physical team and [I’m] playing inside this year more so I’m just trying to build up my post endurance.”
What did Coach say to the team afterward?
“I think in the first half, our rebounding effort wasn’t what, I don’t think, we wanted it to be. I thought in the second half, defensively we made them take tougher shots and we rebounded the ball when we needed to. We felt like what it came down to was we made the plays we needed to make to win the game but our overall game, we still have to work these things out.”
Louisiana State University
Head Coach Van Chancellor
“Let’s give Connecticut credit where first. I thought they found a way to win a game. Their three big guns played really well. Montgomery just broke our back with those three balls. There aren’t many women who can go behind the screen and drill the three ball like she did. (Maya) Moore hurt is in the first half. (Tina) Charles has always hurt us. It seems like Kaili McLaren doesn’t play against anyone but us. She killed me down in Baton Rouge last year. If I was on the Connecticut staff, I would tell her when they play Rutgers that they were going to wear purple. She is a tiger tamer. She talked to me before the game, her and Montgomery. I told Renee, ‘last year you were telling me that you didn’t know if you deserved to be an All-American. You do. You are going to be one of the Olympic point guards. I am really proud of our team today. We have a young team. We ended the game with four freshmen. We had players playing out of position. Our two lead scorers fouled out. We found a way to hang in. We started out zoning them and then they solved that and then we went to man. We had no time to prepare. We didn’t even practice yesterday. Our team, a young team, I thought LSU was pretty good today. This wasn’t one of those games where they were up 40 and he subbed and we made a little game at the end. We made of it all the way through.”
What were your expectations coming into this season?
“I have never dealt in expectations. I didn’t deal in expectations when I had the great team last year. I just believe that you go out and work as hard as you can, get better and today was an indication that we were a lot better. This is the best team in the country by far. There is no question about that. There is nobody in second place and we went tooth and nail with them today and that’s what we wanted, to be the best we can, to be as good as LSU can be. We had some real growing pains that hurt us early. We didn’t have (Ayana) Dunning. She had been hurt and she had a conditioning problem and we finally get her healthy. (Lasondra) Barrett had been hurt. They are now starting. We are just now hitting our stride.”
Junior Allison Hightower
What do you think the difference was between the first and second half?
“They (UConn) were getting rebounds, offensive boards and getting to the line and we really couldn’t stop that. I think that we should have adjusted a little bit harder. We tried.”
Was it harder for you to get shots in the second half?
“It was much harder for me to get shots in the second half, but I knew that if I was able to penetrate I would be able to dish because I was drawing two people. It was very hard.”
Can you talk about the freshman class and how the team has improved this year?
“We have grown since our first game at the beginning of the season. They (the freshman) really played well today for being very young and in this type of environment. We showed a lot of heart out there today and we didn’t give up. We just have to keep getting better, going to practice and keep working hard because we have a lot of potential.”
The score was 45-43 and UConn went on an 18-3 run, what was the difference there?
“(Renee) Montgomery was hitting all of her shots, she kept going behind the screen and we didn’t adjust to that. We were supposed to stop that and we didn’t do that and she kept knocking down those shots. That gave them a lot of momentum. We also took quick shots, trying to hurry up and make something happen when we should have been patient.”