Houston has moment of redemption in Big East final
HARTFORD, Conn. -- When the horn sounded to end Connecticut's 65-59 win over Louisville in the championship game of the Big East tournament, the crowd on hand at the XL Center let out what sounded like a cheer of relief and the victorious Huskies rather calmly congratulated each other before shaking hands with the Cardinals.
In about seven minutes of game time, Houston scored seven points, grabbed four rebounds, and played stellar defense against Bingham and McCoughtry."She really took on a little bit of a leadership role for the first time," Auriemma said. "And that's one thing Charde's not been able to do in the four years she's been here, is be any kind of leader, because she's had too many struggles with her own self. But I thought today, she actually showed some of those qualities that are going to help her down the road. It's been a long time coming. In two weeks, we're going to see whether or not there's a carryover. I hope there is. But I've always hoped that there was." There was one other moment that stood out during what otherwise was her second-half catharsis. With the shot clock winding down and Houston guarding Bingham at the top of the key, she couldn't stop herself from reaching in and picking up a senseless foul that sent Bingham to the free-throw line. Auriemma turned his head skyward, spun himself around once or twice in consternation, and let loose a bellow of frustration. After the game, the player and coach stood about eight feet from each other in a hallway underneath the arena, separated only by the two masses of reporters encircling each. Stuck between the two groups, a voice recorder could pick up Houston talking about her appreciation for the support of the Connecticut fans as Auriemma contemplated her ability to maintain her level of play through the coming weeks of postseason play. They might never be on the same page, but they are linked as part of the same story. "But she did smack that kid at the top of the key there with eight seconds left on the shot clock," Auriemma mused. "So she's not going to let you get away easy with this thing. You might think we're home free. You know, you're driving with a kid that -- you're in the passenger seat. And you're not quite sure if she's got all the directions and whether she's got both eyes on the road and both hands on the steering wheel. So let's just keep our fingers crossed and hope we get to where we're going." Graham Hays is a regular contributor to ESPN.com's women's basketball coverage. E-mail him at Graham.Hays@espn3.com.
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