Jan. 16, 2012
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STORRS, Conn. (AP) -
It wasn't long ago that UConn had trouble with North Carolina. Times sure have changed.
Bria Hartley scored 17 points and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis added 15 to help No. 3 Connecticut beat 24th-ranked North Carolina 86-35 on Monday night, handing the Tar Heels the worst loss in school history.
It was the Huskies' fifth straight win over the Tar Heels with those victories coming by an average of 32 points.
"There were some times we played them when they were just way bigger, more athletic," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "They took advantage of those things and had a lot more offensive players back then. I think that's the difference I see right now. I see they don't have as many offensive players as they used to have."
UConn had six players in double figures, including Kiah Stokes' 11 points and 11 rebounds in 14 minutes.
It only took 8 1/2 minutes for the Huskies (15-2) to blow this game wide open. Leading 11-6, UConn scored the next 15 points including five by Mosqueda-Lewis and five by Tiffany Hayes to take command. Hayes' layup with 11:34 left in the half made it 26-6. North Carolina got within 16, but the Huskies used a 16-0 run, that saw six different players score, to put the game away.
"It was really good to see us come out and start the game the way we did," Auriemma said. "We were able to get out and run a little bit and our pressure worked right away."
The Tar Heels (12-5) have really struggled lately dropping their last three games, including a surprising loss to Clemson. It's the fourth straight year that North Carolina has had a three-game skid. In contrast, UConn hasn't lost consecutive games since 1992-93.
North Carolina hit a new low against UConn, being embarrassed on national television. The Tar Heels, who won five of the first seven games against UConn, were held to their lowest offensive output ever, easily surpassing the previous record of 44 set in 1987 against N.C. State and equaled in 2000 against Georgia Tech.
"You don't expect going into a game where you're going to play UNC, you just don't expect to come out with such a gap, so it's a surprise," said Kelly Faris, who celebrated her 21st birthday. "We don't base our win off the score, but it's still a bit surprising for a score like that and a win like that."
The 51-point loss topped the 49-point defeat against Virginia in 1990.
"I thought we'd give them a better game," North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "I'm disappointed we didn't give them a better game. We didn't start out well tonight, UConn is a tremendous team."
The Tar Heels have been playing short-handed all season. Waltiea Rolle missed the first part of the season after giving birth to a daughter in November. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt was sidelined for the first 13 games after offseason shoulder surgery. She led the team on Monday with nine points.
Laura Broomfield was wearing protective dark goggles after being scratched around the eye against Maryland.
Hatchell, fourth on the career wins list with 871, remained one victory short of 600 with North Carolina.
With the Huskies leading 51-16 at the break, the only suspense left for the second half was whether they would reach the century mark and whether they would best their biggest victory ever against a ranked opponent - a 53-point win over Pittsburgh in 2009.
UConn could have easily surpassed both milestones but Auriemma played his bench liberally in the second half. The only Huskies player who didn't see action was freshman guard Brianna Banks. She suffered a head injury in practice Sunday.
"She slipped and fell down," Auriemma said. "In this day you want to be careful with these things."