(13) Connecticut 67

(23-7, 13-3 Big East)

(9) Rutgers 51

(25-6, 14-2 Big East)

    7:00 PM ET, March 8, 2005

    1 2 T
    #13CONN 37 3067
    #9RUTG 25 2651

    Top Performers

    Connecticut: A. Strother 20 Pts, 4 Reb

    Rutgers: M. Ajavon 20 Pts, 1 Reb

    Huskies led by as many as 21 in first half

    HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A whole new attitude is doing wonders for Barbara Turner.

    For more in-depth information on each squad, be sure to check out Beth Mowins' team-by-team breakdowns:
  • Louisville
  • Southern California
    The junior forward from UConn (No. 11 ESPN/USA Today, No. 13 AP) led her team back to the Big East elite Tuesday night. Banged up and bruised by the time it was over, she anchored a dominating inside game in the Huskies' 67-51 win over Rutgers in the conference tournament championship.

    "I'm just having a positive attitude about everything," Turner said. "It's the attitude I should have had from the beginning. I just want to do whatever I need to do to help my team win."

    The tournament MVP, Turner was averaging 17 points heading into the title game. She scored 13 and had six rebounds in 18 minutes for the Huskies, who won the conference title for the first time since 2002. A knee injury in the first half forced her to sit out the final 7:48 of the period, and the Scarlet Knights made their only run in her absence -- an 8-0 spurt.

    While other teams in the tournament wilted under Rutgers' vaunted press, the Huskies (27-3) regrouped and regained control en route to their 11th tournament title in 14 years. Turner has two national titles with UConn, but the Big East tournament crown has eluded her.

    Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma was not surprised that Turner emerged as the team leader during the tournament.

    "Just watching her in practice the last few weeks, her quickness, her focus, I could just tell that she was kind of locked into what we needed to do," Auriemma said.

    The three-time defending national champs were in control from the start and led by as many as 21 points in the first half.

    The ninth-ranked Scarlet Knights (25-6), known for their trademark defense and transition game, could get no closer than nine points. They opened the game with just two field goals and eight turnovers in the first 11 minutes to trail 26-5.

    Rutgers shot just 32 percent and got few second chances against the Huskies, who grabbed 30 defensive boards.

    "Their inside people took our heart away," Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer said. "It was one and done. I think Connecticut wanted it more. We seemed to be a step slow."

    Top-seeded Rutgers (25-6) won the regular-season title outright, ending UConn's reign of 11 straight. The Scarlet Knights were in search of their first tournament title in four appearances.

    Rutgers, the best defensive team in the league, struggled all night against the UConn post players. The Huskies outrebounded Rutgers 47-29 and outscored the Scarlet Knights 34-24 in the post. Jessica Moore grabbed a team-high seven rebounds for UConn and finished with 12 points.

    Matee Ajavon led Rutgers with 20 points and Cappie Pondexter added 19. The Huskies were able to hold Chelsea Newton to just one point after she had been averaging 17 for the tournament. Michelle Campbell, who averaged 12.6 points in the regular season, was scoreless.

    "You can't expect to win a game when you're outrebounded by 22," Pondexter said. "You've just got to come and lay it out on the line no matter what."

    The Huskies established themselves in the post early. Turner and Moore got UConn out to a quick 4-0 lead with strong inside baskets. That opened the outside for Ann Strother, who hit a pair of 3s in the first half. Her 3 with 9:21 gave UConn its biggest lead at 26-5. She finished with 20 points and had three of UConn's four 3-pointers.

    But the momentum began to shift when Turner went down with a right knee injury while driving the lane and was fouled with 7:48 left. Ashley Battle took Turner's free throws, hitting both. She had eight points and three boards when she left.

    In her absence, the Scarlet Knights scored eight straight points. Ajavon had four points in the stretch and the lead was cut to 11. The teams traded baskets down the stretch and the Huskies went into the break with a 37-25 lead.

    "She was bound to get hit," Moore said of Turner. "But I think our team did a really good job of keeping our composure and kept on playing."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 67 51
    FG Made-Attempted 22-49 (.449) 18-56 (.321)
    3P Made-Attempted 4-12 (.333) 2-8 (.250)
    FT Made-Attempted 21-30 (.700) 13-20 (.650)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 16 (0/0) 21 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 21 0

    Game Leaders

    PointsA. Strother 20M. Ajavon 20
    ReboundsC. Houston 7M. Theodoris 9

    2004-05 Season

    Feb 3, 2005 @CONN 57, RUTG 44Recap | Box Score
    Feb 13, 2005 @RUTG 76, CONN 62Recap | Box Score
    » Mar 8, 2005 CONN 67, @RUTG 51Recap | Box Score