March 6, 2011
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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - With Maya Moore struggling for one of the rare times in her stellar career, Stefanie Dolson took over.
The freshman center scored a career-high 24 points to lead top-ranked Connecticut to a 59-43 win over No. 17 Georgetown on Sunday in the Big East quarterfinals.
"I think that's one of the best parts of our team," Moore said. "When someone is struggling like I was tonight, someone picks you up and Stefanie did a great job of finishing inside and making some tough plays in there."
Tiffany Hayes added 10 points for the Huskies, who will face Rutgers on Monday night in the semifinals. UConn (30-1) has won 18 straight games since its lone loss of the season to Stanford on Dec. 30 that snapped the Huskies' record 90-game winning streak.
Moore had a quiet offensive game, scoring only six points. It was only the fifth time in 147 games that she didn't reach double digits. She did grab 15 rebounds.
"She struggled right from the beginning of the game today," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "When you're doing that you become your own worst enemy. It's not so much what the other team is doing to you it's what you're trying to do."
UConn is trying to win its fourth straight Big East tournament championship and 17th overall. It was the Huskies' 79th consecutive victory at home and 67th straight conference win.
Sugar Rodgers scored 17 to lead Georgetown (22-10).
The two teams met on Feb. 26, with UConn winning 52-42. The Huskies were forced into a season-high 26 turnovers by the Hoyas and didn't pull away until late.
Dolson was saddled with foul trouble in that contest. On Sunday, she established her presence inside early. The 6-foot-5 center made eight of her 12 shots from the field. Over the last nine games, she's averaging 14.6 points and shooting 64 percent.
"We play small ball and don't have the inside presence to stop a big kid like that," Georgetown coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. "We held Maya Moore to six points but Dolson steps up and hits 24."
The Huskies have needed a strong effort from Dolson over the last month with the departure of freshman Samarie Walker to Kentucky. Backup center Heather Buck has been sidelined by a stress reaction in her left foot for the past week. She was still in a walking boot, but no longer needs to use crutches.
As has been the case all season, UConn's defense led the way. The Huskies are No. 2 in the country in scoring defense just behind Marist, allowing only 49.7.
"We take tremendous pride in the fact that we play really hard on the defensive end and play smart and make the other team do some things they aren't comfortable with," Auriemma said. "I thought we did a great job of that tonight."
With the game tied 7-7 early on, UConn used a 17-5 burst to take control. Hayes had six straight points during the run, including a three-point play off a missed shot. Kelly Faris capped the spurt with a 3-pointer as the shot clock ran out that made the score 24-12.
Monica McNutt's 3-pointer with 6:35 left in the half cut the Hoyas' deficit to nine before UConn rattled off 13 of the final 15 points to go up by 20 at the half.
After making three of its first four shots, Georgetown finished the first half missing 20 of its final 24. The Hoyas shot just 23 percent (16 for 70) in the game.
"You get 70 shots up you got to make at least half of those," Williams-Flournoy said. "We can't make 16 for 70."
Georgetown made a run early in the second half, cutting its deficit to 11 as Rodgers scored eight consecutive points. Her second straight 3-pointer brought the Hoyas to 41-30 with 15:36 left.
"The second half we played hard, the first half we were just riled up because of the crowd," Rodgers said.
Both teams struggled on the offensive end over the next 10 minutes, combining for just two baskets. Moore missed 10 of her first 11 shots before hitting a layup with 5:15 left that gave UConn a 49-34 advantage.
The Hoyas couldn't get within 12 the rest of the game.
Georgetown reached the quarterfinals by edging Syracuse 61-60 on Saturday. It was the team's first victory in the Big East tournament in a decade - their last victory also coming against the Orange.