STORRS, Conn. (AP) -- Ann Strother broke into an all-knowing smile watching Connecticut teammate Renee Montgomery score off her second straight steal in the second half.
It brought a deafening roar from the 9,513 UConn fans, who were treated to a dominating display of defense and speed as the Huskies (No. 9 AP, No. 7 ESPN/USA Today) rolled by Boston College 60-46 on Thursday night in the semifinals of the preseason Women's NIT.
"I was just laughing because I know she's done that to me a couple times at practice. I know how it can happen," said Strother, who finished with 11 points. "It was kind of a point in the game where it was a little stagnant and she picked up the pace."
Connecticut (3-0) will play Oklahoma (3-0) for the title on Sunday. The Huskies are making their third appearance in the tournament and won the championship both previous times (1997, 2001). Sunday's game is a rematch of the 2002 NCAA title game,
which UConn won, the third of five national titles.
The Eagles (2-1) played UConn close early but eventually wilted under the Huskies' smothering defense and speedy guard play.
"They took us apart," BC coach Cathy Inglese said.
Montgomery swiped the ball two straight times from BC point guard Sarah Marshall at midcourt and got away clean for two uncontested layups. Her second gave UConn its largest lead of the game at 53-37 with 7:24 remaining and forced Inglese to call a time
"When something like that happens you're embarassed as a point guard," Inglese said. "But I told Sarah to just continue to play and learn from it. [Montgomery's] quick. I told her to keep her head up and go on and run the show. I just wanted to give Sarah confidence."
The Eagles, however, would get no closer than 11 points the rest of the way.
Charde Houston also finished with 11 points for UConn. She and Barbara Turner had seven rebounds apiece for the Huskies, who dominated inside, outscoring BC 38-28 in the paint.
Montgomery finished with 10 points and had three of UConn's 13 steals. The Huskies scored 28 points off 19 BC turnovers.
The game was a matchup of former longtime Big East rivals. UConn has a 37-14 edge over the Eagles, the newest member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, but BC won two of the last three coming into the game.
Kathrin Ress and Kindyll Dorsey each scored 11 for BC. Brooke Queenan had a team-high 10 rebounds.
Both teams matched baskets for the first 14 minutes of the game. Montgomery's driving layup through the Eagles' bigger post players gave UConn the lead for good at 19-17 with 6:31 to play. The Huskies outscored BC 13-5 the rest of the way to take a 32-22 lead at the break.
Pleased with the win, UConn coach Geno Auriemma acknowledged his team is still a work in progress.
"It was one of those knock down, drag out kind of games where you've got to find a way to win and we did," he said. "We didn't fare too well last year in games like this, so this is a good sign for us."