Feb. 26, 2011
WASHINGTON (AP) - Turnover No. 11 came when Lorin Dixon grabbed a rebound and tripped embarrassingly over her own feet, stumbling out of bounds with no one near her. Turnover No. 22 was a bad toss by Tiffany Hayes near midcourt that looked more like a screen pass in football gone haywire.
It was that kind of day for the No. 1 team in the country. Facing a helter-skelter defense, top-ranked Connecticut had to overcome a season-high 26 turnovers against No. 18 Georgetown, holding on for a 52-42 win Saturday that clinched the top seed in the Big East tournament.
The Huskies repeatedly found themselves unable to get the ball downcourt. They turned it over an incredible eight times in 10 possessions during a 6-minute stretch in the second half against a Hoyas team that presses early, often and pretty much all the time.
"It's unwatchable when it's like that," coach Geno Auriemma said. "I think Georgetown has something to do with that. It's a combination of Georgetown playing really hard and being really aggressive in their traps, and Connecticut players being kind of tentative and going back backwards instead of attacking it. ... It was a very frustrating period there."
Connecticut (28-1, 15-0) won by countering with some solid defense of its own, holding Georgetown to 26 percent shooting. The Huskies, who returned this week to the top of The Associated Press poll, had their lowest point total in nearly four years but they won their 16th straight game - 15 of them by double digits.
They also secured their 19th regular season conference title in 23 years, but they were in no mood to celebrate after such an ugly performance.
"It made it less sweet for us," said Maya Moore, who led the Huskies with 20 points, "because we've never been a team that's solely focused on the win. It's always been how we win, so when we don't win the way we know we can, it's not as sweet."
UConn has also won 65 straight against Big East opponents and 24 in a row against Georgetown, but this was the closest Huskies-Hoyas game since 1994. Georgetown faltered because it turned the 26 turnovers into only 20 points.
"If you look at some of the statistics, we gave that one away," said Monica McNutt, Georgetown's only senior and the special honoree during pregame Senior Day ceremonies. "I'm a little bit sour about that."
Sugar Rodgers went only 6 for 20 from the field to finish with 16 points for the Hoyas (21-8, 9-6). Rubylee Wright was 1 for 11 and scored only three points. McNutt added nine points on three 3-pointers, but the Hoyas made only 5 of 27 behind the arc overall.
The Huskies pushed a 33-19 halftime lead to 35-22 early in the second half, but turnovers No. 16, 17 and 18 were converted into back-to-back 3-pointers by McNutt and a pair of free throws by Adria Crawford. Rogers' 3-pointer with 5:13 to play cut the lead to 44-40, but the Hoyas didn't score again until Rogers hit a jumper in the final minute. The Huskies closed the game with an 8-2 run.
The teams combined to commit 44 turnovers, while making only 29 field goals.
With backup center Heather Buck on crutches - out for at least two weeks with a stress reaction in her left foot - Auriemma had only eight players in uniform. The thin ranks were further aggravated when starting center Stefanie Dolson picked up two quick fouls, forcing the Huskies to play with a small lineup for much of the game. By halftime, Georgetown had already used twice as many players (12) as Connecticut (6).
Auriemma said he could have used some depth when his players starting losing their composure against the Georgetown press.
"That's when you want to take someone out," he said. "We don't have the ability to do that right now."
The 2,000-seat McDonough Gymnasium was packed, and there was the rare sight of people seeking extra tickets outside the entrance before tipoff. There was even a show of support from the Georgetown men's team, who walked through during the first half after returning from their defeat to Syracuse at the Verizon Center.