7:00 PM ET, December 29, 2005
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Barbara Turner and Ann Strother intend to make the most of their final year at Connecticut.As they have all season, the seniors set the tone early for the Huskies in a 78-44 win over Albany on Thursday night.Turner finished with a season-high 18 points in 15 minutes and Strother added 17 to lead the eighth-ranked Huskies to their fourth straight win."That's just something we've been focused on doing, coming out, giving it our all," Strother said. "Just knowing that it's the end of four years, we want to make the most of every situation."Turner and Strother, who have two NCAA titles, combined for 18 points in the first half to stake the Huskies (10-1) to a 38-17 lead at the break. It was the fewest points UConn allowed in a half since holding Providence to six on Feb. 5, 2005.UConn coach Geno Auriemma said he expects that kind of quick start from his seniors every game."When you played here the longest, then you should have a pretty good idea of what you need to do," he said.The Huskies had 11 steals and five blocks, limiting the Great Danes (3-6) to 28.6 percent shooting and a season-low point total. Albany's 22 turnovers were a season-high and resulted in 28 UConn points.Conversely, the Huskies took care of the ball, finishing with a season-low seven turnovers."We played pretty good defense and took good care of the ball and got people involved in offense that we wanted to get involved," Auriemma said. "We got the right shot at the right time. We accomplished a lot."Sherri Mikus, Gia Sanders and Amanda Ward, who played high school ball in nearby East Hartford, led the Great Danes with eight points each. Ward used to attend UConn games as a girl, dreaming one day she'd play with the Huskies. She was satisfied Thursday night to play against them in front of more than 13,000 fans at the Hartford Civic Center."It was great, we had nothing to lose," Ward said. "We just played our hearts out. It's amazing, a once-in-a-lifetime chance."It was the first meeting of the teams, and Albany's first game against a nationally ranked team in five years. The Great Danes are 0-3 against Top-25 opponents. The game also reunited Albany coach Trina Patterson, who played her college ball in the 1980s at Virginia under Debbie Ryan and then-assistant Auriemma."He recruited me out of high school, I remember him calling," Patterson said. "He's the same guy, he never changed. He's done so much for women's basketball. He's elevated it."Despite her team's drubbing, Patterson welcomed the chance to play against a five-time national championship program. The Great Danes goal was to take the floor without fear, something they accomplished, she said."We wanted to challenge them and go man-to-man," she said. "We didn't want to sit back and let the game not be in our control."The Great Danes were scrappy inside. They finished nearly even on the boards. UConn finished with a slim 39-38 rebounding edge."They outhustled and outworked us a little bit in that area," Auriemma said.The game was the third of a four-game homestand against nonconference opponents for UConn, which faces Army on Saturday. The Huskies return the Big East schedule on Jan. 2 at St. John's.The game also marked the return of UConn sophomore forward Charde Houston, sidelined the last three games with a foot injury. She entered midway through the first half and made an impact quickly with a basket and two rebounds in 50 seconds. She played sparingly the rest of the way and finished with six points and four rebounds in 11 minutes.Auriemma had cleared his bench with less than 7 minutes left in the first half, and for the first time this season, 12 players scored."Everybody got into a little bit of a rhythm and everybody felt like they were a part of what we did tonight," Turner said. "That's always a good feeling when everybody can come into the locker room and smile about the game."
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||16-58 (.276)||28-57 (.491)|
|3P Made-Attempted||5-19 (.263)||6-18 (.333)|
|FT Made-Attempted||7-9 (.778)||16-29 (.552)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||20 (0/0)||11 (0/0)|