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No. 1/1 Women’s Basketball Survives Tight Squeeze Against Syracuse

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (January 15, 2008) – Maya Moore (Lawrenceville, Ga.) had all of her 13 points in the second half to spur on the No. 1/1 University of Connecticut women’s basketball team to a come-from-behind 65-59 win over Syracuse before a record crowd of 4,221 at the Carrier Dome on Tuesday night.

UConn trailed by as many as nine points in the game, a season high. The Huskies had trailed for a combined total of just 9:07 through its first 15 games this year but the Orange led for 21:12 tonight. Yet, the Huskies fought to the end on the road to remain perfect at 16-0 on the year, 4-0 in BIG EAST play. The much-improved Orange dip to 14-3 overall and 2-2 on their league docket.

Moore ended up with a double-double grabbing 17 rebounds to accompany her 13 points. Nine of those rebounds were on the offensive end of the floor. Mel Thomas (Cincinnati, Ohio) led the Huskies with 15 points while Renee Montgomery (St. Albans, W. Va.) chipped in 14. Chandrea Jones led the Orange with 18 points.

The teams traded baskets for the first eight minutes of play with Syracuse scoring and the Huskies countering, including key three-pointers by Thomas and Montgomery. A second three by Thomas gave the Huskies a 15-13 lead at 11:14 but the Orange answered back with a 7-0 run to go up 20-15. In all there were eight lead changes and two ties before the Orange took the lead for the remainder of the first half at 10:11 on an Erica Morrow bucket.

UConn righted the ship but the Orange kept attacking. A three by Morrow at 5:47 put the Orange up 27-20, marking the largest deficit the Huskies have faced all season. The team previously trailed Hartford 5-0 early in their Dec. 29 contest at the XL Center. SU would extend its lead to as many as nine points on three occasions, including a 36-27 edge with 2:56 left in the half. A three and two free throws by Thomas closed the first half’s scoring to cut the Husky deficit at intermission to four points at 36-32.

The Orange shot 48-percent in the first half (16-for-33). UConn opponents had shot just 29-percent entering the contest, leading the nation. The Orange defense produced six steals and forced nine UConn turnovers at the break. Thomas had 11 of UConn’s 32 first half points while Kaili McLaren (Washington, D.C.) and Montgomery had six each. The Huskies played much of the half without Tina Charles (Jamaica, N.Y.) who got in early foul trouble and scored just four points in seven minutes of action.

Syracuse re-established its nine-point lead at 43-34 on a Nicole Michael hoop at 18:02 but UConn would go on a 17-2 run from there to eventually retake the lead.

Held scoreless in the first half, Moore scored 11 points in the first 8:28 of the second half to key the rally. Moore tied the game at 45-45 at 12:00 when she grabbed a rebound and drove for a finger roll lay-up plus a foul shot. Moments later, Moore gave UConn its first lead since the game was just nine minutes old. Moore grabbed a defensive rebound and carried it coast-to-coast for a basket that put UConn on top 47-45. Montgomery would score the next four points to help the Huskies extend the lead to a game-high six at 51-45 before the Orange snapped the run with 9:39 to play.

The Husky lead finally reached double digits for the first time at 3:42 when McLaren hit a pair of free throws to put UConn on top 61-51. The comfortable advantage did not last long. The fearless and resilient Orange did not back down and put together an 8-0 run in the game’s final minutes, closing the gap to just 61-59 with 1:14 to play. Charles and Charde Houston (San Diego, Calif.), both of whom had played sparingly so far on the night, came into the game at that point and helped seal the win. In the final 74 seconds of play, Charles had a blocked shot and a pair of rebounds while Houston had a crucial steal and also muscled her way to two points in the paint that put UConn up 63-59 with 38 seconds to play.

The Husky defense was much more stout in the second half as the Orange shot just 25-percent (7-for-28) in the second half. Meanwhile, UConn enjoyed a 54-30 edge on the glass for the game, grabbing 19 offensive rebounds while SU had just 20 on the same defensive glass.

The Huskies return to action on Saturday when they play host to Cincinnati at noon at the XL Center. The game will be broadcast live on CPTV.


SCOREBOARD 1st 2nd Final 1/1 Connecticut 32 33 65 Syracuse 36 23 59

Postgame Notes

- Tonight's win over Syracuse improves UConn to 4-0 in the BIG EAST for the fourth consecutive season

- UConn improves to 16-0 for the first time since the 2002-03 season and the sixth time in the program's history with tonight's win at Syracuse

- UConn extends its BIG EAST Conference road winning streak to 11 consecutive games and the Huskies have won 19 of their last 20 conference road games overall.

- UConn improves to 104-7 in its last 111 games vs. BIG EAST opponents in the regular season.

- UConn extends its regular season winning streak to 29 consecutive games. UConn’s last regular season loss came exactly one year ago tonight (Jan. 15, 2007) by a 82-76 score at North Carolina.

- UConn improves to 30-12 in the all-time series vs. Syracuse following tonight's win.

- UConn improves to 175-9 all-time when playing as the nation's No. 1 ranked team.

- UConn improves to 210-3 in its last 213 games vs. non-ranked foes (since Jan. 31, 1999) following tonight's win at Syracuse.

- First start for Ketia Swanier since Dec. 5, 2005 vs. North Carolina - a span of 82 games.

- Syracuse's 36-32 halftime lead marked the first time UConn has trailed at intermission this season.

- Syracuse's 36-27 and 34-25 leads in the first half (9 points) marked UConn's largest deficits this season.

- Mel Thomas' 15 points marked her seventh double-figure scoring effort this season and the 47th of her career.

- The 36 points by Syracuse marked the most allowed by the Huskies' in a first half this season.

- Maya Moore 13 points extend her UConn streak of double-figure points to open a career to 16 straight games.

- Maya Moore 13 points and 17 rebounds mark her fourth double-double of the season.

- Renee Montgomery's 14 points mark her 10th double-figure scoring effort this season, her seventh in the last eight games and the 54 the of her career.

- Maya Moore's 17 rebounds represent a season-best.

-  UConn's 65 points marked its fewest this season.

- Tonight's attendance of 4,221 marked the largest-ever in the history of Syracuse women's basketball.