7:00 PM ET, January 26, 2005
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The chicken dinner was nice, so were the compliments from Pitt coach Agnus Berenato. What Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma doesn't know is if all these pleasantries in January can lead to a championship in April.Jessica Moore scored 19 points and led a 15-0 run late in the first half that broke open a tight game and led Connecticut (No. 10 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) past Pittsburgh 89-53 on Wednesday night, the Huskies' fifth consecutive victory.Connecticut (13-4, 6-0 in Big East) won its 18th in a row over the Panthers (11-7, 3-4), who have nearly doubled their six victories of last season but are not yet ready to compete with a team possessing UConn's depth and talent.Moore, averaging nearly 17 points over her last four games, scored seven points during a run that lasted nearly 5 minutes and boosted the Huskies' shaky 30-27 lead to 45-27 with 17 seconds left before halftime.It was the same leadership she showed during the morning shootaround when, sensing the Huskies were flat, she made it known she wasn't happy. And it had nothing to do with the chicken dinner the team enjoyed at senior Ashley Battle's house in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night."It's getting to be late in the season, this can't be happening," Moore said of the poor practice. "When these things happen is when we play poorly, and I was really upset with that. I've always said that if you're going to say stuff, tell people what you do, you've got to be a leader" on the court.That's exactly the kind of leadership Auriemma has sought from a team he says lacks the talent and toughness his three-time defending national champions possessed in past seasons.Berenato predicted UConn can win a national title but, Auriemma said, kiddingly, "I told Agnus she's a lunatic. She's only been in the Big East one year. She says nice things about everybody."Auriemma agreed that UConn could contend for a sixth national title but, he said, "It's January -- there's probably 200 coaches who feel that way."The Huskies "are laid back and low key and I don't know if that wins national championships," he said. "It's been a constant struggle between me and my team. That's what we've been working on in practice ... we need to find that edge by March."The Huskies followed the first-half run with a 16-0 run midway through the second half to push their lead from 53-38 to 69-38, though the eventual 36-point winning margin did not approach last season's 55 points in a 97-42 UConn rout."We competed for 16 minutes, but we still have a long way to go," Berenato said.The Huskies' have outscored Pitt by an average of 37 points during a winning streak that dates to Pitt's 76-74 victory on Feb. 24, 1993.Auriemma liked the Huskies' fast break, which has been erratic at times. They were held to 67 or fewer points in three of their previous five games and had scored more than 75 points only twice in 15 games.UConn shot 57.8 percent (37-of-64) and scored 32 points off Pittsburgh's 25 turnovers."If we get some easy baskets, get some stuff before they set up, it takes some of the pressure off," Auriemma said.UConn, which plays Notre Dame (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 6 AP) and Rutgers (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today, No. 8 AP) in its next two games, also got 15 points from Charde Houston, 14 from Battle and 11 from Barbara Turner.Houston bounced back offensively from a seven-point game against Seton Hall after averaging 20.8 in her previous four games.Katie Histed scored 17 and reserve Allisha Morris added 14 points for Pittsburgh, which was coming off consecutive road victories over Seton Hall and Georgetown.Connecticut won for the 43rd time in 46 road games and has a winning margin of 20.4 points during its five-game winning streak, which began after a 68-67 loss to Tennessee on Jan. 8.
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||38-51 (.745)||20-49 (.408)|
|3P Made-Attempted||5-10 (.500)||5-11 (.455)|
|FT Made-Attempted||11-15 (.733)||8-11 (.727)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||11 (0/0)||16 (0/0)|