HARTFORD, Conn. (December 31, 2008) – Senior Renee Montgomery (St. Albans, W. Va.) moved past Cathy Bochain and Jennifer Rizzotti into 12th place on the UConn all-time scoring list with a game-high 20 points to lead the No. 1/1 University of Connecticut women’s basketball team to a 78-41 win over Hartford at the XL Center on Wednesday afternoon.
Despite missing their first five shots of the game, the Huskies got on the board first at the 18:21 mark as Montgomery connected on a jumper outside the key. The only tied score of the afternoon came 24 seconds later as Hartford’s Erica Beverly knotted the score at two. Another Montgomery basket gave the Huskies their second lead of the game as UConn continued to go on a 12-0 run in a span of three minutes to take control of the game.
Montgomery’s 20 points all came in the first half as she led all scorers at the break while UConn shot 62.2% (23-for-37) from the field. Hartford struggled early as they shot 19.4% (6-for-31) in the first frame, including a 12.5% (1-for-8) showing from behind the arc.
The Huskies finished today’s contest shooting 55.7% (34-for-61) and held the Hawks to just 26.8% (15-for-56) from the floor. Tina Charles (Jamaica, N.Y.) finished with her 10th double-figure scoring effort of the season as she scored 17 points and pulled down nine rebounds as all 11 UConn players who saw action in today’s contest scored at least one point.
After today’s win, UConn continues to hold the nation’s longest active streak of 30 consecutive regular-season home victories and put the Huskies at 10-0 all-time against Hartford and a perfect 8-0 when playing the Hawks at home.
Today’s contest marked the 11th game this season and 84th of her career in which Montgomery scored in double-figures. Sophomore Maya Moore’s (Lawrenceville, Ga.) 11 points marked her 13th straight game in double-digits and the 48th of her career. Moore also grabbed eight rebounds while picking up one steal and two blocks on the afternoon.
Hartford freshman Illicia Mathis recorded a team-high 10 points as the Hawks limited the UConn transition offense, holding the Huskies to just 10 fast break points, all in which came in the first half of play. But the Huskies used 15 points off Hartford turnovers and 40 in the paint to earn the win and open the season 12-0 for the third straight year and the 10th time in 13 seasons.
UConn will return to action on Saturday, Jan. 3 as the Huskies take on LSU at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. Tip is set for noon.
· Today’s game marked UConn’s first home game since December 3, 2008.
· After today’s win, UConn has won 30 consecutive regular season home games. The nation’s longest active streak.
· Connecticut has won 14 consecutive regular season home games against non-conference opponents after today’s victory.
· The Huskies are now 205-11 all-time when playing as the No. 1 ranked team in the Associated Press Top 25.
· Following today’s win, the Huskies are 90-11 in games played at the XL Center.
· UConn is 10-0 all-time versus Hartford and a perfect 8-0 when playing at home.
· UConn is 49-22 in games against Connecticut opponents and 24-0 in those games under Head Coach Geno Auriemma.
· Connecticut boasts an all-time mark of 161-54 during the month of December, including wins in 86 of their last 89 games played in the month.
· UConn has won 23 straight games in December.
· The Huskies are 52-17 all-time against the America East Conference.
· Connecticut opens the season 12-0 for the third straight time and the 10th time in 13 seasons.
· UConn has won 98 consecutive games against non-ranked opponents.
· The Huskies have won 217 straight games against unranked opponents on their homecourt.
· UConn has a 27-game regular season winning streak against non-conference opponents.
· Renee Montgomery’s 20 points marks her 11th game this season in double-figures and the 84th of her career.
· Tina Charles’ 17 points marked the 10th time this season she has notched double-figure points and the 61st of her career.
· Today marked UConn’s fifth straight game shooting above 50% in the first half.
· Maya Moore’s 11 points marked her 13th straight game in double-figures and the 48th of her career. She has scored in double-figures in 48 of 50 career games.
· UConn has made at least one three-point field goal in 230 consecutive games.
· Today all 11 players who played for the Huskies scored at least one point.
· UConn went on a 12-0 run over a 4:30 span in the first half to turn a 2-2 tie into a 14-2 advantage.
· Renee Montgomery’s 20 points moved her past Cathy Bochain (1,534) and Jennifer Rizzotti (1,540) into 12th place on the UConn career scoring list with her career total of 1,545 points.
University of Connecticut
What are your thoughts on the play of Renee Montgomery in the first half?
“I thought she was fantastic in every area. It’s common knowledge, I think, that when your guards really take control of the game, things have a tendency to just kind of follow. We, for better or worse, and I think for the better, however Renee performs is indicative of how our team performs. I’m not surprised that she did what she did, because she has the ability to do that every day. It’s just that she doesn’t take enough shots and get that involved, but I think she saw that we were struggling a little bit and took it upon herself. Renee’s pretty unique right now in a lot of ways.”
You compare her (Renee Montgomery) to a boxer sometimes and now she looks like one (referencing the bloody collision that Montgomery was involved in during the second half).
“I didn’t even see the play, I didn’t see exactly what happened. She would have had to go to the corner, no question about it. She never takes herself out of practice, she never takes herself out of games. she actually said to me, I can go in if you want me to, when she came back to the bench. There was no point to it.”
When you see her (Renee Montgomery) down like that, what goes through your mind?
“I wasn’t sure what happened until I saw her grab her mouth, and then I just didn’t care. She didn’t grab her knee, she didn’t grab her ankle, she grabbed her mouth and I just started worrying about something else. It’s no secret to people that watch us on film and anybody that watches us play that when Renee’s on the floor, when Renee has the ball in her hands, we’re the best team in America, and when she’s not we’re probably something other than that.”
Montgomery passed (Hartford head coach) Jen Rizzotti on the UConn all-time scoring list in today’s game. When Montgomery came to Connecticut, did you think she was capable of this?
“I didn’t really know what she would be capable of, except that she would be capable of leading our team. I knew she was capable of controlling the offense and she always had that way about her that whenever she walks into a situation, she controls that situation. Jennifer was a lot like that, and I don’t remember thinking when I recruited Jennifer that she was going to be a national player of the year, a first team All-American and that we were going to win a national championship. So maybe it’s appropriate that two players that maybe weren’t thought of in those terms coming into Connecticut are now both going to certainly be thought of in those terms. It’s a testament to her (Montgomery’s) durability and how hard she works and the progress that she has made.”
Are they different players, other than their leadership ability?
“Yes, much different in style of play. Jennifer was much more right at you, much more physical. She was a power forward masquerading as a guard. Renee, her style is a little more subtle, but they probably have more similarities than they have difference.”
When Renee is getting to the rim like she did today, how different does that make you offensively?
“What I thought was interesting today, I thought today was going to be a jump shooting day. The way Hartford was going to play, they were going to make it hard to get inside their defense. Then, early on, Tina (Charles) misses three layups and Maya (Moore) misses three layups, and all of the sudden I’m thinking that its going to be much tighter in there and we aren’t going to get back in there. After Renee knocked in a couple, things started to loosen up a little bit. I was surprised, but I guess I shouldn’t be. I’m always surprised that Renee can get to where she gets the way she does. She doesn’t look like she’s going to overpower you, but somehow she gets to the rim.”
The team was slow offensively in the first couple of minutes, how did you guys get it in gear?
“We started when Renee set the tone for the team. She went out there and was really aggressive; she directed the team and executed the plays. She was making things happen on the offensive end.”
Maya Moore got benched for the final 12 minutes of the game, is that just Geno’s way of making a statement?
“That is just how coach Auriemma coaches. He wants to set the tone for all players and let us know that regardless of who we are, this is what we want to happen and if it is not executed, that is what will happen. It has happened to me before, so it’s not surprising to me.
What was different about this game?
“We had a pretty good first half. We set the tone early but we need to tighten up a few things before the LSU game.”
What did you think of Renee Montgomery’s performance?
“She was taking care of it at the beginning of the game and I was proud of her performance.”
University of Hartford
Head Coach Jennifer Rizzotti
“Obviously we are disappointed in the outcome, but I feel like we were in the same place at halftime last year and we basically gave up in the second half and got nothing out of the last 20 minutes. Whereas today, I actually feel like if we just look at the last 20 minutes there were a lot of good things that we did. It was a step forward in terms of our execution and our competitiveness. That’s what I really wanted to get of the game was to compete on every possession. That last 10 minutes of the first half has been our nemesis all year in big games against good teams. We just need to figure out how to be able to not let a team blow us out in the last 10 minutes of the first half. That is something UConn is excellent at and they have done it to everybody so far this year, but it is also something we want to learn from and make sure we are doing that same thing to some of our league opponents. Where we start the game out tough and then our depth, athleticism and talent separates us from other team in our league. We certainly have a lot to learn from that.”
Can you talk about Erica Beverly and her performance this afternoon?
“Erica has just been phenomenal. I couldn’t imagine that she would be this much better this year than she was the first two years at Hartford, but she is. She was the best freshman we’ve ever had and she’s already a lot better. She has taken it upon herself to score more, to be more aggressive. Defensively, I think she is a machine. I think she did a phenomenal job tonight on the ball, but also off the ball and helping… She has just been our most competitive player, our most consistent player and our best all around player. She thrives on games like this and in every game that we have played against a top opponent she has been our best player. I think tonight is no exception.”
Renee Montgomery passed you today on the UConn leading scorer list, can you talk her play?
“She is obviously a phenomenal player and she is so tough to guard. I was joking with Megan Culmo and Kara Walters about the fact that she loves to score all her baskets going right, but there is still no one in the country that can stop her from doing it. She just is a machine right now. She is playing phenomenal basketball, good as anyone in the country and she has so much confidence in that every shot she shoots is going to go in. She runs the team really well so she is doing a lot for the basketball team. Of course I am biased, but I think that the point guard spot is the most important part of the basketball team and they certainly have an ace in the hole there.”
Can you compare Connecticut to the other top 10 teams that you have played?
“Clearly they are a step above any other team that we have played or anybody that I have seen on film. I just think that their experience, with Renee and even Tina, who is having a phenomenal year this year and then Maya, who has played like a senior since she stepped on campus. You just can’t replace that. They have all the pieces. Their bench guys are starting to play better. We beat Duke a month ago and I still think they are a really good program. Ohio State was, in their building, excellent and probably the next best team that we have played. They had a different style because they are big and they pound it in, but they were very good and very balanced. Louisville really took us out of our game similarly with pressure. They are young, but they have a lot of depth and a lot of talent. UConn is certainly a step ahead of them as well as Oklahoma, Stanford, Tennessee and everybody else that I have seen. I think that the next group of teams is pretty good. I think that if UConn stays healthy and continues to play the way they are that there is nobody who could beat them.”
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