<
>

UConn gets back on track with rout of Villanova

VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) -- Ann Strother ended Connecticut's losing
streak at one.

Strother scored a season-high 24 points and had 10 rebounds,
Renee Montgomery added 14 points and No. 8 UConn bounced back from
its worst home loss in 21 years with a 72-56 victory over Villanova
on Thursday night.

The Huskies (7-1, 1-0 Big East) were challenged for a half
before Strother scored a string of baskets and had her best overall
game of the season to help them avoid consecutive losses for the
first time since 1992-93.

"It was just a mind-set going in, making sure it gets done what
needs to get done," said Strother, 10-for-14 from the field. "I
don't know if I've ever felt that way before to the point where I
need to do something about it and I can do something about it."

UConn was coming off its worst home loss in coach Geno
Auriemma's 21 seasons, losing 77-54 to No. 7 North Carolina on
Monday night. The loss was the earliest home setback for the
five-time NCAA champs in 15 years.

"Games like the Carolina game are something that stick with you
for a long time," Strother said. "If you're not careful, if you
don't play like we can, then Carolina's going to beat us in this
game, too. They're going to beat us until we step up and do
something about it."

Certainly, if any team could have made a serious run at dealing
the Huskies their second loss in a week, it's the Wildcats (5-2,
0-1). Villanova snapped UConn's 70-game winning streak in the 2003
Big East tournament title game and followed that up a season later
with a win over the top-ranked Huskies.

Too talented and too determined to avoid what would have been an
embarrassment at the basketball powerhouse, the Huskies scored the
first six points of the second half to turn a one-point halftime
deficit into a five-point lead and they cruised from there.

"We were excited at the half, but it was just the half," said
Villanova guard Betsy McManus. "They really turned it on in the
second half."

Strother, who entered averaging a team-high 14.4 points, hit a
pair of jumpers to get the run rolling. Kalana Greene used a nice
pump-fake to drive the baseline and get fouled on a layup. She made
the free throw to give the Huskies a 37-32 lead.

Villanova hung tight for a while, with McManus hitting a 3 that
pulled the Wildcats to 39-35, but Strother came back down on the
next possession and stepped right inside the 3-point arc to bury a
jumper.

Mel Thomas was fouled on an off-balance right-handed layup in
the lane and finished the three-point play for a 44-37 lead. When
Thomas hit a 3 minutes later that made it 53-39, UConn was on its
way.

The Huskies made 18 of 28 shots in the second half after
shooting 41 percent from the floor in the first.

"That second half is about as good a second half as we've had
down here in a long, long time," Auriemma said.

Lisa Karcic led the Wildcats with 14 points and Jackie
Adamschick had 13.

Karcic scored six straight points midway through the first half
for a 17-13 Villanova lead. The Wildcats got the lead to six until
Strother scored off a turnover in the backcourt and made a couple
of free throws to help pull the Huskies to 29-28 at the half.

"The first half of the game we were able to control the tempo,
and when we control the tempo, we're pretty good," Villanova coach
Harry Perretta said.

Problem was, when the Huskies controlled the tempo, they were
even better.