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After sloppy first half, UConn controls Pitt for win

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Connecticut defeated Pittsburgh again, but it
wasn't as dominant a win as usual.

The fifth-ranked Huskies came into the Petersen Events Center
and walked off with a 65-54 victory, their 20th straight against
Pittsburgh.

"I think we came out of the game feeling that Pitt lost rather
than we won," Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said. "We didn't
really come out here and beat Pitt like we did so many other
times."

Mel Thomas led Connecticut (17-2, 6-0 Big East) with 21 points.
Ann Strother was the only other Huskies player in double figures
with 14.

"We just didn't play the way we were capable of playing,"
Thomas said. "I don't think we took them lightly or anything, I
just don't think we did the things we needed to do."

In their last 10 meetings, Connecticut beat Pittsburgh by an
average of 45.1 points. But the Panthers hung around until midway
throughout the second half, making it the closest game since they
last beat UConn 76-74 on Feb. 24, 1993.

"I think we really battled them," Pittsburgh coach Agnus
Berenato said. "We did not lose this game because of a lack of
effort and I think that's really important for us."

Connecticut played without forward Barbara Turner, who sat out
the game with a strained left calf.

"Having a senior athletic enough that she can play inside and
outside and can move some of their players away from the basket,
not having that allowed them to pack it in," Auriemma said. "It
made it difficult for us to get anything going, but at the same
time, Pitt's defense and how physical they were had more to do with
it than Turner not playing."

Marcedes Walker led Pittsburgh (12-6, 3-4) with 12 points and 15
rebounds. The Panthers outrebounded UConn 54-32, pulling down 31
offensive boards.

"I said earlier this season that this is probably the worst
rebounding team we've had here in 15 years and today was a perfect
example of why," Auriemma said. "Forget the fact that we're
probably not big enough or athletic enough in some positions, we
get caught a lot of times standing around. We were really fortunate
that Pitt didn't capitalize."

It wasn't because of a lack of opportunities. Pittsburgh took 70
shots, but only made 18. Most of the attempts were second-chance
shots in the low post after offensive rebounds.

"If you look at the shooting, the fact that we got 70 shots was
amazing," Berenato said. "I think that's a sign that they
believed they could make the shot and a good majority of them went
in and out."

While Pittsburgh struggled from the field, Connecticut took
advantage of the few shots it mustered. The Huskies converted 44
percent from the field (22-of-50), including 6-of-17 from beyond
the arc.

There was a sense of relief as the Huskies left the arena.

"They got 31 offensive rebounds," Thomas said. "They should
have scored a lot more points than they ended up scoring."