March 8, 2009
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Villanova coach Harry Perretta joked that he's given Connecticut permission to "kick the crap" out of his squad in the Big East semifinals.
Perretta knows the Wildcats might not have much say in the matter. It's what UConn seems to do to everybody.
Kalana Greene scored a season-high 20 points and pulled down 10 rebounds Sunday, and the top-ranked Huskies rolled over South Florida 79-42 in the quarterfinals.
Greene, whose previous high was 17 against Rutgers on Monday, had 18 by halftime when UConn led 47-10. She hit nine of her 10 shots from the field.
Greene missed last season's tournament with a torn ACL, something she said is motivation.
"I missed a lot of basketball last year, so I'm trying to make up for it this year, not taking anything for granted," she said. "I know the Big East tournament is going to be a lot of momentum for the NCAA tournament, so I'm trying to start now."
Maya Moore, the conference player of the year, had a double-double in the first half and finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds in 27 minutes. Tina Charles added 15 points and Kaili McLaren had 13 for the Huskies (31-0), who are seeking their 15th conference tournament title and second in a row.
Janai Stokes led eighth-seeded South Florida (22-10) with 15. Jazmine Sepulveda, who tied a tournament record with eight 3-pointers in the Bulls' second-round win over Cincinnati, attempted just two shots and didn't score on Sunday.
Connecticut started fast, and a lob pass from McLaren to Moore made it 20-1 with just over 12 minutes left in the first half.
South Florida didn't get a field goal until Porche Grant hit a layup with just over 9 minutes left in first half to make it 25-5. The Bulls were just 3-of-24 from the field before intermission while the Huskies had runs of 10-0, 10-0 and 13-0.
The 10 points were the fewest the Huskies had ever allowed in one half of a Big East tournament game.
"It's tough to get out in transition when you're getting the ball out of the net every time," said South Florida coach Jose Fernandez. "That hurt us. We're a transition basketball team."
UConn, which beat South Florida 83-37 in Tampa on Jan. 6, held the Bulls to 29 percent shooting and improved to 8-0 against them. The Huskies shot 50 percent, and outrebounded South Florida 51-19.
"The past couple of games, the coach reminded us at a timely point, we kind of got outrebounded," Moore said. "It was kind of a mindset that we wanted to come into the game and not have it three games in a row."
The Huskies earned their 21st consecutive trip to the semifinals, where they will play Villanova. The Wildcats beat No. 20 Notre Dame 58-47 earlier Sunday.
"I saw some of the UConn players, I told them I gave them permission to kick the crap out of us tomorrow...I won't mind one bit after today," Perretta said.
UConn won its Big East regular season games by an average of 29 points, but Auriemma said he's not looking forward to playing Villanova and its deliberate style.
"It really tests your patience, it tests your ability to just grind it out, because you know you can't speed up the game."
UConn is now 41-4 in Big East tournament play, and has not lost an opening game since being beaten by Boston College in the 1988 quarterfinals.