HARTFORD, Conn. (December 23, 2006) – Sophomore Kalana Greene (Saint Stephen, S.C.) collected the first double-double of her career with 13 points and 14 rebounds to lead the No. 6/6 University of Connecticut women’s basketball team over Oakland 85-53 on Saturday afternoon at the Hartford Civic Center in Hartford, Conn.
Three other UConn players posted double-figures as junior Brittany Hunter (Columbus, Ohio) had 13 points with nine rebounds, while junior Mel Thomas (Cincinnati, Ohio) and sophomore Renee Montgomery (St. Albans, W.Va.) each added 10 points.
Greene’s 13 rebounds also represented a career-high in that category. Montgomery’s 10 points extended her consecutive game streak of totaling double-figure points to six consecutive contests. Hunter’s 13 points was her fifth double-digit scoring game this season.
UConn opens the season at 9-0 for the first time since 2003-04 and the ninth time since 1996-97. Today’s game marked UConn’s first-ever meeting with Oakland and it’s first versus an opponent from the Mid-Continent Conference.
Freshman Tina Charles (Jamaica, N.Y.) scored UConn's first seven points of the contest to give the Huskies a7-1 advantage less than two minutes into the contest. Hunter hit on a jumper to increase the advantage to 13-7 at 16:29. Montgomery drove along the baseline for a layup before Thomas hit from three-point range to key an 18-2 run for UConn.
Montgomery extended the lead for the Huskies to 29-15 when she beat three Oakland defenders and en route to the basket. Junior Ketia Swanier (Columbus, Ga.) took advantage of a hole in the Grizzlies' defense to tack on two more points for the Huskies and force Oakland to take a timeout.
Greene scored two points down in the post for a 41-22 advantage with 2:21 left in the half. Hunter continued to dominate offensively under the glass as she got a bucket with less than a minute left in the half to go up 43-26, a lead which the Huskies took into the locker room at halftime.
Thomas opened the second half by hitting from beyond the arc with 17:13 on the clock. Greene scored on a shot underneath the basket after a quick pass from Houston to go up 56-32. On the next possession it was Montgomery’s turn for the bucket with Greene assisting at 14:20.
Freshman Kaili McLaren (Washington, D.C.) connected on a free throw attempt after she was fouled under the basket to complete the three-point play. Moments later an Oakland turnover resulted in Montgomery taking the ball the length of the court for an easy lay-in and a 67-36 advantage.
Thomas found McLaren low in the post for a bucket to push the score to 73-41. Swanier added to the lead with a jump shot just inside the three-point line at 77-48. Down the stretch, McLaren dropped a pass down low to sophomore Tahirah Williams (Montclair, N.J.) for the score at 3:23. Freshman Meghan Gardler (Springfield, Pa.) knocked down three-pointer with less than 20 seconds in the game to win 85-53.
McLaren tied a career-high with nine points while Charles also finished with nine. Junior Charde Houston (San Diego, Calif.) and Swanier each put up six points.
Today’s 32-point win marked UConn’s ninth consecutive win by at least 11 points and its seventh by more than 30 points. With today’s victory, UConn head coach Geno Auriemma now has 598 career victories.
UConn is back in action on Friday, December 29 when the Huskies host Hartford at the Hartford Civic Center in a 7:00 p.m. (ET) contest.
SCOREBOARD 1st 2nd Final Oakland University 26 27 53 UConn 43 42 85
ü Today’s game marked UConn’s second in three days.
ü This afternoon’s game represented UConn’s first “day” game this season.
ü UConn opens the season 9-0 for the first time since 2003-04 and the ninth time since 1996-97.
ü Today’s game marked UConn’s first-ever meting with Oakland and its first versus an opponent from the Mid-Continent Conference.
ü With today’s victory, UConn head coach Geno Auriemma now has 598 career victories.
ü UConn extends its home-court winning streak vs. non-ranked opponents to 190 consecutive games.
ü UConn improves to 148-54 in the month of December and have won its last seven games overall played during the final month of the calendar year.
ü UConn improves to 68-9 all-time at the Hartford Civic Center, including 2-0 in 2006-07.
ü UConn extended its streak of games with at least one 3-point field goal to 151 consecutive games.
ü Brittany Hunter’s 13 points represented her fifth double-digit scoring game this season.
ü Kalana Greene’s 14 points and 13 rebounds marked the first double-double of her career.
ü Kalana Greene’s 13 rebounds marked a career high.
ü Today’s 32-point win marked UConn’s ninth consecutive win by at least 11 points and its seventh by more than 30 points.
ü Renee Montgomery’s 10 points extended her consecutive game streak of totaling double-figure points to six consecutive contests.
ü Kaili McLaren’s 9 points tied her career high.
Post Game Quotes
University of Connecticut
Did you think that there was a size advantage in this game?
”I think we had a huge size advantage. Going in we thought that they had a little bit of an advantage and that it would be difficult to defend them because they are so small. I thought we could compensate for it at the other end and I thought we did. Kalana (Greene) I thought was especially aggressive and energetic. She sneaks in and gets a lot of rebounds. The other big guys, you know where they are but with Kalana you don’t always know where she is and she just comes out of no where. I’ve been really happy with our offensive rebounding for the last couple of games. Obviously I’d like to improve on it but it was pretty good today.”
Are you happy with Kalana Greene?
”Yes, I didn’t see the final stats, so I don’t know what she did today, but just the way she’s playing, the aggressiveness and everything, I think that’s going to go a long way for her. I know one of the things she wanted this year was to be consistent and to put together a string of games where she played close to her ability. We still don’t know what that is but we’re getting close to it that’s for sure.”
On Kaili McLaren:
”Kaili’s (McLaren) foot’s been bothering her. That’s why she didn’t play much in the last game. I didn’t know how much she would play today but when Tina and Brittany decided to take the day off it was a pretty good idea for us to give Kaili as much work as we could. Kaili is a good basketball player, its some of the other things that she’s going to have to keep improving on.”
On Brittany Hunter’s Knee and Tina Charles’ injury:
”Brittney, you never know. She said she felt something while she was out there. She looked great while she was out there. She said she landed on it and felt something so we don’t know if it’s just irritated, whether she tweaked something in there or what. You have to give it a day or two and see what happens from there. Tina has had a bad shoulder since high school. She landed on it and someone kind of landed on it. For her it’s a matter of just taking a day off. I’m guessing that by the time we get back she’ll be fine.”
”these guys are good, they’re good. We knew coming in that they were similar to the Villanova team we’re playing later on. They are going to execute their stuff and move people around. It was a great opportunity to work against their zone because they make it hard to play zone. They don’t make it easy for you and I thought we did pretty well.”
How hard was it to get through this game knowing most of you were excited to go home for the Holiday?
“I must admit, we had a lot on our mind. All the other students are already home for Christmas and we were excited. It was hard to focus, but once it’s game time, it’s game time and we have to play our game. We did a good job of that.”
On the rebounding:
“They’re a small team, way smaller than us. We got good position and most importantly we wanted the ball more than them.
You’re a lot smaller yourself. Did you just outwork them?
“I was aggressive and the ball kind of bounced my way. I just went out there and got rebounds.”
On her play this week and was she sorry to see the break come now:
“A break is always nice, but I think once Christmas is over I’ll be back to the way I was before the break. I feel good and this game was a confidence booster. This is a good way to go home.”
Over the past nine games what do you feel is the most positive thing that the team has accomplished?
“Team chemistry, we have been working very well together. It means everything especially with this team because we are young and all we have is each other so we need to stick together.”
Can you talk about the job the team did underneath:
“Our post players did a great job of grabbing the rebounds and running the floor.”
Oakland (Mich.) University
Head Coach Beckie Francis
What went into the decision to play Connecticut for the first time, and what do you feel your team got out of today’s game?
“We’ve won four championships in a row since I’ve been at Oakland, and two NCAA appearances in a row. I knew that UConn sells out, so I wanted to get our players into an atmosphere against an unbelievable team that’s been nationally ranked and has sellout crowds so our players wouldn’t be intimidated or afraid of a crowd, so if we are lucky enough to go to the tournament again, the crowd won’t be a factor."