Jan. 16, 2010
STORRS, Conn. (AP)-- Connecticut got off to a near-perfect start, showing there is a chasm between it and the rest of women's basketball.
Tina Charles scored 23 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to help the top-ranked Huskies rout No. 3 Notre Dame 70-46 on Saturday night for its 56th straight victory.
UConn scored 24 of the game's first 28 points to take control, delivering an early knockout.
"That first 15 minutes of basketball was pretty amazing," Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said. "That was as good a 15 minutes of basketball you could hope to play on a day like today against a team like that."
Maya Moore added 20 points for the Huskies, who have the second-longest winning streak in women's basketball history. They're 14 short of the NCAA and school record set from 2001-03.
UConn (17-0, 5-0 Big East) has been at its best against top-10 teams during the streak, winning those 10 games by nearly 27 points a game.
"The gap is huge," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. "I think that they are on a mission to prove that gap is wider and wider with every game. They've had their way with the top 10. Even Stanford. They are the best team in the country, no question about it."
Connecticut has won every game during its streak by double digits.
Devereaux Peters scored 12 to lead the Irish (15-1, 2-1), who had been off to the second-best start in school history. Notre Dame started 23-0 en route to the 2001 national title.
The Irish wore their alternate green road jerseys for a little extra luck, but they needed a lot more to beat UConn. Before the sellout crowd could settle into its seats, the Huskies were up 17-2 as four different players scored.
"Once we threw the first couple of punches we sucked the life out of them and had control of the game," said Kalana Greene, who had 13 points for Connecticut.
Ashley Barlow finally hit a jumper to end the 5-minute scoreless drought for the Irish, but it wasn't nearly enough to stop the onslaught.
Charles scored the Huskies' next nine points on a dazzling array of post moves much to the delight of the Connecticut Sun coaching staff, which had a front-row view. Earlier this week, the Sun traded for the top pick in April's WNBA draft with Charles most likely the prize.
By the time Notre Dame scored consecutive baskets for the first time with 2:53 left in the half, the Irish trailed 36-14. UConn led 42-19 at the break with Charles scoring 17 points.
Notre Dame, which came into the game averaging 82.4 points, got no closer than 20 in the second half. The Irish shot only 27 percent (18 for 67) from the field for the game, including going 3 for 19 from behind the arc.
"We actually shoot the ball fairly well," McGraw said. "Certainly 3 for 19 isn't where we should have been. Certainly their defense had everything to do with that."
The Huskies and Irish were two of four unbeaten teams left in Division I basketball heading into Saturday. Wisconsin-Green Bay (16-0) won earlier in the day, while Nebraska (15-0) plays at Baylor on Sunday.
Connecticut improved to 150-2 in its last 152 Big East home games, including winning the last 37 straight at Gampel Pavilion. The Huskies don't have much time to rest, though, with a trip to No. 7 Duke scheduled for Monday night.
McGraw failed in her first attempt to become the 19th coach in Division I basketball to win 600 games.
Notre Dame has a history of ending notable winning streaks. The Irish stopped Oklahoma's 47-game winning streak in football in the 1950s, UCLA's 88-game winning streak in men's basketball in the 1970s and North Carolina's 92-game winning streak in women's soccer in the 1990s.
The Irish will get at least one more chance at UConn when the teams close out the regular season March 1. They could also meet in the Big East and NCAA tournaments.
"It's real disappointing for us," Barlow said. "They are a good team and we got back on our heels and didn't play our game. We got to do better than that."
ESPN brought its "College Gameday" show to Storrs, broadcasting at the site of a women's basketball game for the first time. More than 3,000 fans showed up Saturday morning to partake in the festivities, including the Huskies' players--who were holding up signs in the stands with fellow students.
"I was on Cloud 9 the whole day," Moore said. "You wake up and get to participate in Gameday and hang out with the students. Playing this game, looking up and seeing not a single seat open was amazing. It's a day I'll never forget and alot of our fans will never forget."