7:00 PM ET, January 12, 2006
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- The hometown kid didn't disappoint.Mel Thomas had 16 of her 21 points in the second half to lead No. 7 Connecticut to a 92-71 victory over Big East newcomer Cincinnati on THursday night.The Bearcats shouldn't have been surprised.Thomas grew up in Cincinnati and was recruited heavily by the Bearcats. Her parents are Cincinnati alumni and her brother is a student there. In fact, the Thomas' basement is decorated in Bearcat red and black.But she followed her heart to Connecticut and on Thursday scored in double figures for the 11th time this season. Thomas did it with her parents, brother and grandparents in the stands."I love it when they can come. They're all Cincinnati fans, so it's pretty interesting," Thomas said.Safe to say that on this night, the Thomas clan threw their support behind the Huskies (14-2, 4-0). Thomas hit two 3-pointers in a 20-2 run to open the second half. The Huskies made nine of their first 13 shots in the run that helped UConn finally shake free of the Bearcats (10-4, 0-3).The second half was a completely different story as the Huskies got their transition game untracked. Ketia Swanier directed the up-tempo attack and finished with a career-high 10 assists. UConn shot a season-high 61 percent from the field. It was the second straight game UConn scored more than 90 points."When we came out after the second half we just had much more energy," Thomas said. "Once one of us starts playing well, we all feed off the others' energy."The Bearcats, meanwhile, were held to one field goal in the first 7 minutes of the second half and committed six turnovers in that span.UConn leading scorer Ann Strother was held to five points, 12 below her average, but her teammates more than picked up the slack. Brittany Hunter had eight of her 13 points in the first 10 minutes of the second half, mostly from close range and Renee Montgomery finished with 12 points."I told them any time you are open and it's your shot, it's a good shot," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "I think my job is to instill confidence in shooters. The only way to instill confidence is to tell them every time you are open -- shoot it. If we get an open look we are going to make the most of them."Karen Twehues hit 4-of-5 3-pointers and led the Bearcats with 14 points, while Treasure Humphries added 13.The lead changed a dozen times in the closely contested first half that closed with a string of six 3-pointers. Cincinnati trailed by as many as six in the period until Twehues closed the gap in a hurry with three straight 3s. The Huskies answered with consecutive 3s from Montgomery and Thomas.When Kahla Roudebush hit the fourth straight 3 for the Bearcats with 1:52 left, Cincinnati had a 43-40 lead.The Huskies countered with a layup from Montgomery and two free throws from Hunter and held on for a 44-43 halftime lead. It was the most points scored by a UConn opponent in the first half this season. The Bearcats scored 17 points off UConn turnovers in the half.Thomas helped turn things around quickly for UConn and her hometown team had few answers."We couldn't get matched up on her quick enough before she put too many [3s] down," Cincinnati coach Laurie Pirtle said. "It just gave them a real energy level."
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Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||27-63 (.429)||36-60 (.600)|
|3P Made-Attempted||8-12 (.667)||8-22 (.364)|
|FT Made-Attempted||12-21 (.571)||12-17 (.706)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||17 (0/0)||18 (0/0)|