2:00 PM ET, January 21, 2006
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."