HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- After a lackluster first half,
Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma wanted more intensity out of his
team in the final 20 minutes.
The eighth-ranked Huskies responded and result was a runaway
86-49 win over Hofstra on Thursday night.
UConn had 23 steals and held the Pride to just two field goals
in the final 12:49.
Mel Thomas scored a career-high 25 points and Barbara Turner
grabbed 16 rebounds for UConn (9-1). Freshman point guard Renee
Montgomery finished with eight steals, two shy of the school
"Everybody realized the first half was unacceptable,"
Montgomery said. "Everybody realized this is where it has to
start. We have some big games coming up."
The Huskies play top-ranked Tennessee on the road Jan. 7, then
play host to No. 3 LSU nine days later.
Montgomery started eight games this season, but came off the
bench Thursday to give the Huskies a defensive spark. Her eight
steals were two shy of the school record.
"The main thing was the whole team was hustling, which made
people rush and turn the ball over," Montgomery said. "I guess it
just happened to come my way."
The Pride (4-4) committed a season-high 33 turnovers, and the
Huskies capitalized, scoring 41 points off Hofstra miscues.
It was the Pride's first meeting with a ranked team in two
years, and the Huskies were their highest-ranked opponent ever.
"It's always great to see where you fit in throughout the
country," Hofstra coach Felisha Legette-Jack said. "It's a
wonderful opportunity for our players."
UConn dominated from the opening tip and led the entire way, but
played in spurts the first 20 minutes. Senior leadership from
Turner and Ann Strother helped the Huskies build a comfortable lead
Strother scored all 12 of her points in the first half and
Turner grabbed 10 rebounds. UConn broke it open with an 18-2 run
midway through the period. Strother had 10 points in the run and
Turner dominated on the defensive boards, limiting the Pride to one
shot on several possessions. The Huskies led by as many as 21 in
the period and had a 37-22 lead at the break.
Thomas kept it going in the second half, hitting three straight
3-pointers in the opening minutes. The UConn defense took over
after that, limiting the Pride to six field goals in the half.
"We've got two guys that are playing at a real high level -- Ann
and Barbara -- and every night if we can find a third scorer, in
this case it was Mel, then I think we have a chance to be pretty
good," Auriemma said.
Lana Harshaw led Hofstra with 12 points and Vanessa Gidden added
10 points. Amaka Agugua had a team-high 11 rebounds for the Pride.
Montgomery finished with 11 points and Turner scored 10.
Turner's 16 rebounds was a career high. She was coming off a
10-rebound performance in Monday's win over Holy Cross. It was the
first time the senior forward finished with double-digit rebounds
in consecutive games.
"It's a good feeling to go out and attack every rebound and
create more offense for our team," Turner said. "There's no
reason I can't do that every game."