February 28, 2009
HARTFORD, Conn.-The No. 1/1 University of Connecticut women's basketball team clinched sole possession of the BIG EAST Regular Season title after an 81-50 win over Seton Hall on Saturday night at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn.
The Huskies have now won their 17th BIG EAST Regular Season crown and third straight, including 15 of the last 17 seasons overall.
With the win, the Huskies move to 15-0 in BIG EAST play for the seventh time since the 1994-95 season, while Seton Hall falls to 3-12 in the conference. UConn also improves their overall record to a perfect 29-0 on the year as the Pirates drop to 15-13.
Seton Hall ran with the Huskies for the first 3:30 of the game, holding a 5-3 lead before freshman Tiffany Hayes (Lakeland, Fla.) drained a three-pointer to spark a 21-0 run. During that span sophomore Maya Moore (Lawrenceville, Ga.) netted two consecutive three-pointers to help the Huskies take a 23-5 lead mid-way through the first half.
Seton Hall opened the game 1-of-13 from the field as the Huskies extended their lead to as much as 18.
The Pirates shot .241 (7-of-29) from the floor in the first half, while the Huskies shot .455 (15-of-33) to take a dominating 22-point lead into the break at 44-22, led by Tina Charles' (Jamaica, N.Y.) with 13 points and five rebounds and Moore with 15 points, four assists and three steals.
After shooting 0-of-8 from the field in the first frame, Renee Montgomery (St. Albans, W. Va.) netted her first points of the game at the 16:32 mark in the second half, sparking an 11-point scoring spree from the senior in a six minute span. She finished the night with 14 points on 5-of-15 shooting from the floor, including four three-pointers, in 33 minutes.
The second half saw the Huskies extend their lead to as much as 34 with 5:11 left in the game on Montgomery's fourth three-pointer of the contest
The Huskies finished the contest shooting .491 (27-of-55) from the field, including an 11-of-24 showing from three-point land. Seton Hall shot .274 (17-of-62) from the floor as they outrebounded the Huskies 40-38.
Moore tallied 18 points and seven rebounds marking her 28th game of the season in double figure scoring and 64th in 67 career games. She added four assists, two blocked shots and four steals. Moore's 18 points moved her past Jessica Moore (1,223 points) into 27th on UConn's all-time list. Her current total is 1,233 points.
With 16 points, Charles shot 6-of-8 from the floor with seven boards and three assists. Kalana Greene (Saint Stephen, S.C.) and Hayes' both scored 10 points, while adding six and five rebounds, respectively.
After today's win, UConn has won the last 24 meetings against Seton Hall as their last loss to the Pirates was a 74-53 loss on January 5, 1994. The Huskies have won 130 of their last 138 games against BIG EAST opponents. UConn has now won 39 consecutive regular-season home games, which is the nation's longest active streak.
Montgomery, Cassie Kerns (Valparaiso, Ind.) and Tahirah Williams (Montclair, N.J.) were all honored prior to tonight's contest as part of the Huskies' annual "Senior Night." The UConn seniors have posted an overall record of 130-11 during their tenure at Storrs.
UConn concludes the regular-season schedule with a game at Rutgers on Monday, March 2. Tip time is set for 7:30 p.m. for the ESPN2 "Big Monday" telecast.
- UConn clinches sole possession of the BIG EAST regular season title after tonight's win. The Huskies have captured their 17th BIG EAST regular season crown and third straight, including 15 of the last 17 seasons overall.
- UConn has won the last 24 meetings against Seton Hall. Its last loss to the Pirates was a 74-53 loss on January 5, 1994.
- UConn is a perfect 9-0 at the XL Center this season.
- Connecticut has won 130 of its last 138 games against BIG EAST opponents.
- The Huskies are 15-0 in BIG EAST play for the seventh time since 1994-95.
- The Huskies are 95-11 all-time in games played at the XL Center.
- Connecticut has won its last 21 games played at the XL Center.
- UConn has won 39 consecutive regular-season home games - the nation's longest active streak.
- The Huskies' 29-0 start to the 2008-09 season is the program's best since starting 31-0 in the 2002-03 season.
- UConn has won its last 25 BIG EAST Conference home games.
- The Huskies boast a record of 278-11 at home (Storrs and Hartford) since the 1993-94 season.
- Connecticut has won 37 consecutive regular season games with today's win.
- The Huskies are 192-97 all-time in the month of February and have won 23 of their last 24 games, including 14 straight during the month.
- UConn is 222-11 all-time when playing as the AP Top 25 No. 1 team.
- UConn is 147-2 in its last 149 BIG EAST home games.
- Connecticut has won 111 consecutive games against non-ranked opponents.
- UConn has made at least one 3-point field goal in 247 consecutive games.
- Connecticut has won 224 consecutive games at home against unranked opponents during the regular season.
- The Huskies have won 63 straight BIG EAST regular season games against opponents other than Rutgers.
- The Huskies broke the game open with a 21-0 run spanning 7:16 in the first half.
- Seton Hall opened the game 1-of-13 from the field.
- UConn has led at halftime in 28 consecutive games.
- Maya Moore's 18 points moved her past Jessica Moore (1,223 points) into 27th on UConn's all-time list. Her current total is 1,233 points.
- Maya Moore's 18 points marked her 28th game this season with double-figure points and 64th in 67 career games.
- Tina Charles' 16 points marked her 25th game this season with double-figures and seventh straight.
- Tiffany Hayes' 10 points marked her 15th game this season with double-figure points.
- Renee Montgomery's 14 points marked her 27th game this season in double-figures including 15 straight.
- Kalana Greene's 10 points marked her 13th game this season with double-figures and 43rd of her career.
- UConn had five players register double-figure points for the 13th time this season through 29 games. They did it seven times in 38 games in 2007-08.
- Renee Montgomery's two assists tied her with Sue Bird for third on the all-time list with 585 assists.
- All of Renee Montgomery's 14 points came in the second half.
- UConn has won 16 games by a margin of 30 points or more this season.
University of Connecticut
Head Coach Geno Auriemma
On what this night meant for the team
"We knew going in that it was one of those unique events where it's more than just it's Senior Night, which is always a special kind of night. When you have a chance to win a championship, I think it adds to the importance of the night. I thought going in that our players were pretty relaxed and very aware of what was going on...we played well, played great defensively, played a first half in which Renee (Montgomery) didn't score, and still played well."
About having to go to Rutgers and having to win to stay undefeated
"Playing Rutgers is playing Rutgers, whether we're undefeated or not or whether they are in first or second place or not. It's going to be the same kind of game it always is down there. If we go in there thinking a meaningless game because we've already won that's wrong of us, because every game means something. I don't think we have to go down there and think that our goal is to be undefeated. If we win its 16-0, and if we don't it's 15-1. I think it's a great game to play to get us ready for next weekend and beyond. They're a much better team than their record."
What does it mean to this team to win the first 15 games in the conference and to win the championship?
"The goal every year at Connecticut is the same - every player that comes to Connecticut looks up in the rafters and says oh, we need to win the BIG EAST championship or we're not really Connecticut players. The first order of business is to win the regular season, and for these seniors, that's three in a row, so to lose it as freshmen and come back and win is nice, and for the juniors, this is all they know. The other two classes, this is all they know, too. I like when the expectation is that this is all we know. We don't know anything else and we don't know what it feels like to finish anywhere else."
Junior Tina Charles
What does it mean to win this championship tonight?
"It means a lot, it shows our hard work and determination, it is the same focus that we have had all season. Coach always said that it is harder to play 16 games and try to win them all."
How did you balance the emotions of tonight?
"It was really hard, especially with them because I have been with them for three years. Just everything we do off the court, not everything on the court. We live so close to each other, it was cool."
How do you feel about going into Rutgers?
"Coach was talking about that only a couple of Connecticut teams have been able to do that and it is going to mean lot if we are able to do that. We are just going to go out, doing the same thing we have been doing all season."
Sophomore Maya Moore
Why did you and Kalli decide to sing the anthem tonight?
"For our seniors, that is the only reason we did it. There is no way we would have voluntarily done that."
Do you and Kalli sing together a lot?
"Yes we do, we often in the moments when we are in the cold tub after practice. WE are a musical team so we are always messing around in the locker room."
Have you ever sang in public before?
"I sang, my debut, when I was about four in church. That was my last one because I was so shy. I didn't want to go back up. Okay, I remember twice singing in church. So besides that, no."
Whose idea was it?
"It was Coaches idea and somehow we got nominated for the job. He brought up whose the best singers were on the team at dinner at randomly. And we were like so and so...not knowing what we were about to get ourselves into. He was like ya'll should sing the national anthem. Eventually we got talked into it, I think that is how it happened."
Imagine a more difficult place to complete the regular season?
"It is going to be great. That is the way we want to end our season. It is the RAC and it is a tough place to play. It is a great environment to play basketball. We know we are going to get a fight from them. It is going to feel good if we can go in there and play our game."
Senior Tahirah Williams
On the national anthem:
"I overheard them talking but then Kaili (McLaren) said that they couldn't do it anymore because some girl was suppose to sing tonight. So I was like ok, I guess they are not going to sing it anymore. When I saw them take the microphone I was like what. It was amazing, I liked it a lot."
Was the whole experience what you expected?
"It was what I expected because I been through it one time before in high school. I am not saying that it is the same because I am sharing it with thousands of fans, a different jersey and being part of a number one program in America. It is something is crazy."
Senior Renee Montgomery
Was tonight everything that you hoped that it would be?
"Yeah, I was not looking forward tonight because you have so many different emotions. The main emotion was sadness because we are leaving and I was not looking forward to it. My teammates did their best to make sure that we stayed happy; they sang, decorated our locker room and gave us gifts. My gift was great; it was an Ed Hardy hoodie. It was burgundy and I need more than that in my wardrobe."
On winning the BIG EAST:
"It means a lot; coach was telling us that we can't take it like it is not a big deal. This is a big deal because we went the whole season and we went undefeated. I had to stop and think about because I really didn't get exited about it as I would be. Then I thought about it and it is a lot more because it is harder to do then to win the tournament. It is hard so I am happy."
Seton Hall University
Head Coach Phyllis Mangina
How does this game help prepare your team for the tournament?
"We played our butts off. I thought we played really hard and we rebounded the ball a lot better. We didn't finished plays. We had a lot of opportunities to finish plays, but at least we rebounded the ball again. I feel better about that. If we rebound the ball, then we have the chance to beat people going into the tournament."
You had a good start before their big run, what do you tell the team at that point?
"We gave up a lot of second chance points during the big run, so we just wanted to tell them to rebound the basketball and box out a little bit better. We had chances of finishing plays; we were playing against them. We were doing a good job and then all of sudden Maya Moore comes in and bangs in a jumper from the other side of the three point line. It is unbelievable where she shot the ball from. We needed to counter at that point, so we were just trying to calm the kids down and we didn't want to turn the ball over and let them quick baskets. One of our goals tonight was not letting them get any fast break points and they didn't get any. We did that and we out-rebounded them, so those are positive things for us."
What are your goals for the tournament?
"First of all, I think that no matter who we play early I believe we can beat them. We just want to try to come in on Friday and win that game. Our big thing is that we would love to try to get to Sunday somehow. If we get to Sunday somehow that will be three games in a row and then we will take our chances. I really think that we can beat anybody we play those first two rounds, and then the third round we are going to have to have some legs. We are trying to get to Sunday somehow, but my first thing is that we win on Friday. If we win on Friday, I will be happy."
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