CLEVELAND (AP) -- Seven days between games did little to blunt
the shooting touch of Connecticut's Ann Strother and Mel Thomas.
Both scored 19 points to lead the eighth-ranked Huskies to an
85-51 victory over Cleveland State on Sunday.
Connecticut (5-0), coming off a championship-game victory over
Oklahoma in the Women's NIT on Nov. 20, overcame a sluggish start
with a 34-8 run late in the first half and early in the second to
rout the Vikings (2-2).
"It takes a little time to get your legs back after a layoff,"
Huskies coach Geno Auriemma said. "But we also had stretches where
we looked really good."
The overmatched Vikings certainly thought so.
"We had a few lapses and they just smothered us," Cleveland
State coach Kate Peterson said. "They're a great team that will
take advantage of every single mistake."
Cleveland State extended the nation's longest active streak of
games with a 3-point field goal to 362, but couldn't keep up with
Thomas and Strother. Thomas went 5-for-10 and Strother 3-for-6 on
3-pointers and the Huskies shot 49 percent overall from the field.
"I missed a couple early, but you have to just keep shooting,"
Auriemma attributed that to Cleveland State's defensive game
"It isn't easy to play against a zone for an entire game," he
said. "That slows it down tremendously, but we did a good job once
Thomas hit two 3-pointers and scored eight points in a 12-1 run
to start the second half that put the Huskies ahead 55-22. That
came after Strother hit a pair of three-pointers during a 22-7 run
on the way to a 43-21 halftime lead.
"Our defense was at the beginning of that," Strother said.
"Our aggressiveness on defense opened up a lot of opportunities."
Dominique Butler led the Vikings with 10 points, Omega
Harrington had nine and Erin Martin eight.
"We didn't change our game when we saw their jerseys," Butler
said. "We wanted to come out and play.
"They're big and athletic. We tried our best, but athleticism
just won out."
Connecticut has won 151 of its last 154 games against unranked
opponents and is 205-17 overall since the 1999-00 season, winning
four national titles. The Huskies have outscored opponents by an
average score of 77-49 this season.
Brittany Hunter scored 12 points for the Huskies. Connecticut
senior Barbara Turner, a native of Cleveland, made all of her shots
and scored eight points, but played only 17 minutes because of foul
The Huskies made their first appearance in Cleveland to give
Turner a "home" game -- and also promote the NCAA Women's Regional
next March as well as the 2007 NCAA Final Four, both of which will
be held at Quicken Loans Arena, home of the NBA's Cleveland