7:00 PM ET, December 29, 2004
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Michigan State's great start got even better Wednesday night.The 10th-ranked Spartans (11-1) cruised to a 67-51 win over No. 11 Connecticut on the Huskies' tough homecourt. Lindsay Bowen dominated from the perimeter with 21 points and Kelli Roehrig was outstanding in the paint for the Spartans."We believed we could come in here and play this team," Bowen said. "We've been in tough situations before and I think it really showed tonight."The Spartans are off to their best start in program history, knocking off three ranked Big East teams. The Spartans beat then-No. 18 Boston College on Nov. 21 before upsetting No. 6 Notre Dame in South Bend on Dec. 2."It's fun to quiet crowds and make great shots," Michigan State coach Joanne McCallie said. "I definitely think our team had fun tonight."Bowen made 5-of-7 shots from 3-point range and Roehrig had 11 points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots for the Spartans.The Huskies (6-3) were 201-5 at home over the past 11 years coming into the game. The loss was their seventh at the Hartford Civic Center in 54 games. This one came before 16,294 fans in the 31st straight sellout crowd at the Civic Center.They watched UConn's shooting woes continue. The three-time defending champs shot 33 percent, often missing wide-open shots."To play like that in front of so many people who have made the program what it is, you just want to go jump in a hole," UConn guard Ann Strother said.It was the worst home loss for the Huskies (6-3) since a 16-point defeat to Miami on Feb. 21, 1992."It's beyond being bad, it's embarrassing," said Barbara Turner, who led the Huskies with 16 points.UConn hasn't lost three games this early since the 1991-92 season and has a tough stretch ahead. The Huskies host No. 8 Tennessee in a national championship game rematch on Jan. 8 before Texas (No. 3 ESPN/USA Today, No. 4 AP) visits on Jan. 17. Coach Geno Auriemma has plenty of concerns."We're just a bad basketball team at this point in time," Auriemma said. "We can't sustain anything. There's just too many breakdowns over and over and over again."The Spartans made it look easy with a 20-6 surge early in the second half. Bowen hit two 3-pointers in that stretch. Michigan State led by as many as 21 points in the closing minutes, when Bowen's jumper with 2:34 left put the Spartans ahead 64-43.The 6-foot-4 Roehrig gave the Spartans the early inside edge. The center had eight points in the first half and drew a crowd every time she touched the ball.That helped open the perimeter, and the Spartans capitalized with three 3-pointers in the half and held a 30-26 lead at the break. It was the first time this season UConn trailed at halftime. Roehrig said the Spartans weren't about to let up after the break."Pour it on," Roehrig said. "We had to come out the first five minutes in the second half and just play."The Huskies hit the first basket in the second half to close the deficit to two points. It was the closest they would get. The Spartans poured it on after that."This is an excellent victory," McCallie said. "We respect their tradition, but when it comes to the court, you play the court and you play what's on the court."
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