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No. 8 UConn routs Albany, improves to 10-1

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."