(1) Connecticut 84

(5-0, 1-0 away)

Pepperdine 53

(2-3, 1-3 home)

    11:00 PM ET, December 5, 2003

    1 2 T
    #1CONN 46 3884
    PEPP 30 2353

    Taurasi scores 17 against Pepperdine

    MALIBU, Calif. (AP) -- Diana Taurasi was pleased to be able to make a rare trip home. And happy to hear it was snowing back in Connecticut.

    Taurasi, cheered on by family and friends, had 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists Friday night to lead No. 1 Connecticut to an 84-53 victory over Pepperdine.

    Taurasi, the national player of the year while leading UConn to its second straight NCAA championship last season, grew up in Chino -- about 60 miles from the Pepperdine campus.

    She was playing in her home state for just the second time as a collegian and received a loud ovation when introduced with her fellow starters before the game.

    "It feels great, I don't get home too much," Taurasi said. "The last time was in August. It's just good to be with Daddy a little bit."

    Taurasi's father, Mario, said more than 100 supporters from Chino were among the announced crowd of 3,121.

    "I could hear them a little bit," Taurasi said. "You can't worry about who's in the stands, you have to focus on the game."

    When someone mentioned it was snowing in Connecticut, Taurasi replied: "It's about time, we need that white Christmas."

    The Huskies certainly won't see any snow during their brief visit to California.

    The Huskies (5-0) took command by scoring 25 straight points for a 34-15 lead. The Waves (2-3) weren't closer than 15 points after that.

    "I thought we started to get a lot better movement on the offensive end," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said of his team's effort during the decisive spurt. "We got a lot of layups, if I remember correctly.

    "When you shut people out for that long, you can't say it's all we did. The other team has to miss some makable shots."

    The Waves missed 12 shots and didn't score for 8{ minutes as the Huskies went ahead for good.

    "I think it was more we missed some open shots during that stretch," Pepperdine coach Mark Trakh said. "They played really good defense in the second half."

    UConn led 46-30 at halftime, and outscored the Waves 13-4 to begin the second half for a 59-34 lead.

    Pepperdine shot 9-of-39 (23.1 percent) in the second half and 19-of-67 (28.4 percent) overall.

    Barbara Turner had 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Ann Strother added 14 points for the Huskies, who shot 51.9 percent and outrebounded Pepperdine 50-33.

    Shanell Law scored 14 points and Shandrika Lee added 11 for the Waves.

    Taurasi left the game for good with 10:05 remaining and the Huskies leading 70-43. She shot 5-of-12 from the floor, including 1-of-5 from 3-point range, and 6-of-6 from the line.

    Taurasi, a 6-foot senior, was held scoreless while playing 20 minutes in Connecticut's 98-63 victory at Pepperdine three years ago in the second game of her career.

    That was the only UConn game her family had watched in person with the exception of the last three Final Fours.

    There will be another opportunity Sunday when the Huskies face Southern California (1-2) at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.

    Taurasi missed her first two shots -- both 3-pointers -- before scoring her first points on a layup. Her second shot was an airball.

    "Yeah, they had the doors open," she said with a smile.

    The Waves took a 15-9 lead in the opening 5{ minutes by making five 3-pointers in six attempts including two each by Lee and Law.

    Taurasi then made a pair of layups to trigger UConn's 25-0 run that featured 3-pointers by Maria Conlon, Taurasi, Strother and Turner.

    The Huskies have a 113-4 record during Taurasi's career and have won their five games this season by an average of 33.2 points.

    The win was UConn's 72nd consecutive regular-season triumph.

    The Huskies faced Pepperdine and USC at home last season, beating the Waves 109-48 and the Trojans 68-44.

    All three of Pepperdine's losses this season have come to Top 25 teams -- No. 6 Stanford (69-61), No. 16 Oklahoma (95-77) and UConn.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    2003-04 Season

    » Dec 5, 2003 CONN 84, @PEPP 53Recap | Box Score