7:30 PM ET, February 28, 2011
UConn caps off 9th undefeated Big East regular season with rout of Syracuse
STORRS, Conn. -- Maya Moore stood next to her mother and grandfather and just listened as the public address announcer read off the long list of accomplishments that she had achieved during her illustrious UConn career.All-time leading scorer, Academic All-American, multi-award winner, the list just kept going.Whenever she would come close to breaking down, her 81-year-old grandfather would pump his fist and beam, not allowing her to fully start crying."He made this night. I loved it," Moore said. "It was our senior night, but he was the happiest one in the building, I loved seeing a smile on his face."The night, though, belonged to her.Moore scored 23 points and top-ranked Connecticut routed Syracuse 82-47 on Monday night to clinch its ninth undefeated Big East regular season."That's something to be proud of," coach Geno Auriemma said. "They showed up every single night home and away through everything and figure out a way to win. It means a lot to me more than anything else. I find it remarkable."Tiffany Hayes added 18 points for UConn (29-1, 16-0), which has won 17 straight games since its lone loss of the season to Stanford on Dec. 30 that snapped the Huskies' record 90-game winning streak.UConn blew the game open early scoring 18 of the game's first 22 points. Syracuse (21-8, 9-7) couldn't get within single digits the rest of the game.Before the game, her name and number were unveiled high above the court in the Huskies of Honor section of Gampel Pavilion along with the 12 other UConn women's greats, Auriemma and the 1994-95 and 1999-00 teams.The three-time All-American joined former teammates Renee Montgomery and Tina Charles as the only players to be given that honor while still playing for the Huskies. The other 10 players, which include former stars Rebecca Lobo, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi, were enshrined after they were done playing."I view the women up there as big sisters and the rich history they've created here and I want to make them prouder," Moore said. "Once I'm done playing here I'll be able to maybe have a different feeling about it. I want to continue to represent well and do the things that they did to be great."After having three players honored in the last three seasons, it might be awhile before another Husky is put up there.Moore and senior teammate Lorin Dixon were honored before the game. Moore, who is usually unflappable, was tearing up as the UConn public address announcer read off all she's accomplished in her four years at the school. She shared a long embrace with Auriemma on the court and blew kisses to the crowd while saying thank you.The pair of seniors are the most successful duo in NCAA history, winning 143 of their 146 collegiate games. It won't be Dixon and Moore's last home game as the Huskies will host the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament.Moore has made a habit of picking apart Syracuse during her career. She had a career-high 40 points as a sophomore and then scored 38 points and had 20 rebounds against them last season."We haven't challenged her once, she's killed us," Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman said. "I was trying to not let her get 250 points on us in four years."On Monday night, she helped UConn to it's early lead. She had six during the opening spurt hitting pull-up jumpers and a turnaround from the baseline.When Syracuse closed to 20-9, Moore hit three straight shots and Dixon followed with six points of her own, including a rare 3-pointer, to blow the game wide open.UConn led 49-20 at the half.Moore, who hit 11 of her 13 shots, had the team's first seven points of the second half and moved into 11th on the NCAA career scoring list, passing Middle Tennessee State great Alysha Clark.Her 3-pointer nearly 3 minutes into the second half made it 56-22 and it only got worse for the Orange. She left for good with 8:31 left to a rousing ovation from the crowd.Iasia Hemingway scored 13 points and Erica Morrow had 11 to lead Syracuse."I thought that we came out and competed and played as hard as we could," Hillsman said. "They are the No. 1 team in the country for a reason. They shot 60 percent from the field and it felt like 80. We came here to win a basketball game and ran into a team that was very, very hot."It was the Huskies' 78th consecutive victory at home and 66th straight conference win.Back in October, Auriemma said it would be extremely difficult to think that the Huskies could go undefeated in the conference for a third straight season with the loss of player of the year Tina Charles and Kalana Greene.Yet, the Huskies did it."We accomplished our goal -- regular season champions, undefeated 3 seasons in a row, no one has ever done that," Moore said.They clinched the Big East regular season championship Saturday with their victory over Georgetown. Commissioner John Marinatto presented them with the Big East regular season trophy at the end of the game.UConn has a bye in the Big East tournament until the conference quarterfinals on Sunday. If they win, Connecticut could potentially have to play three games in three days. Usually that's not a huge issue, but with backup center Heather Buck on crutches -- out for at least two weeks with a stress reaction in her left foot -- Auriemma has only eight players in uniform.
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||18-51 (.353)||33-62 (.532)|
|3P Made-Attempted||4-17 (.235)||8-20 (.400)|
|FT Made-Attempted||7-11 (.636)||8-11 (.727)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||15 (0/0)||12 (0/0)|