7:00 PM ET, January 14, 2006
STORRS, Conn. (AP) -- Charde Houston didn't need much time to make an impact for Connecticut.
Houston led UConn with 16 points in just 15 minutes of play and saved her best for last in the seventh-ranked Huskies' 70-53 win over St. John's on Saturday night.
The sophomore forward had eight points in the final 6:46 of the game to give the Huskies the lift they needed to hold off the physical and speedy Red Storm.
"When she's on the floor, she makes stuff happen," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "If we could get her out there 20 minutes every night."
Houston has missed four games with a foot injury and has been working her way back into game shape. The game was UConn's fourth in nine days that included an 89-80 loss to top-ranked Tennessee. The Huskies (15-2, 5-0 Big East) have just one day to prep for No. 3 LSU on Monday.
"It's been a long haul here and some pretty emotional games," Auriemma said. "I think we're going to be really tested on Monday physically and mentally."
St. John's wasn't about to let UConn take this night off, either. The Huskies had their hands full with the Red Storm's quick backcourt led by Kia Wright and the stout post play of Danielle Chambers and Angela Clark.
The Huskies leaned on Houston late in the game after the Red Storm rallied from 11 points down to get within a point with 11:11 left. Houston dominated inside with eight straight points in a 17-2 run to close out the game.
"Coach is always harping about being mentally strong, being mentally tough, that's something that we tried to focus on," Houston said. "They were really physical. I have to give them credit. If you sleep on them, they'll beat you."
The Red Storm, who had their four-game win streak snapped, were held to one basket in the final 7:11. St. John's (13-3, 3-2) is out to its best start in league play in seven years but remains winless against the Huskies in the last 22 meetings.
Barbara Turner finished with 14 points for UConn. Ann Strother and Mel Thomas scored 12 apiece for the Huskies.
"It was hard for us to really kind of generate enough to put them away and it wasn't until the last six or seven minutes I thought defensively we really tightened things up," Auriemma said.
After St. John's ran out to 13-7 lead, the Huskies got back into it with harassing defense and a boost off the bench from Brittany Hunter and Willnett Crockett.
Hunter had two steals and a basket in a 7-0 run to that gave UConn a 14-13 lead.
Each time the Red Storm made a run at the Huskies, Hunter countered with inside buckets. She had eight points in 10 minutes and Crockett grabbed six boards and had a block and a steal in eight minutes of play in the period.
The Huskies led by as many as 11 down the stretch before St. John's scored six of the last eight points of the half to pull within 35-28 at the break.
Crockett was held scoreless but finished with a team-high nine boards as the Huskies outrebounded the Red Storm 43-30 and outscored them 40-24 in the paint.
Clark led the Red Storm with 19 points and Wright had 12. Chambers had nine rebounds and four blocked shots.
"We've showed we gained a lot of confidence as a team," St. John's coach Kim Barnes Arico said. "Angela Clark and Danielle Chambers did a phenomenal job for us. I think they got worn down toward the end. We didn't play our best game tonight and we were still in this game late against a great team."
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||20-50 (.400)||28-65 (.431)|
|3P Made-Attempted||2-10 (.200)||5-19 (.263)|
|FT Made-Attempted||11-12 (.917)||9-14 (.643)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||16 (0/0)||14 (0/0)|