7:00 PM ET, January 24, 2006
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Connecticut's Mel Thomas was up for the challenge.She helped shut down South Florida's Jessica Dickson, the nation's leading scorer, as the Huskies (No. 4 ESPN/USA Today, No. 5 AP) cruised to a 77-47 victory over the Big East newcomer Tuesday night.Dickson was averaging 24.7 points a game but finished with a season-low six and snapped her streak of consecutive double-figure games at 34."We just take it personally," Thomas said. "This girl is the leading scorer in the country and you don't want her to score. Everywhere she goes, that's all we were thinking -- she's not getting the ball."It was the same strategy UConn used in a 51-48 win last week over then-No. 3 LSU. The Huskies blanketed reigning national player of the year Seimone Augustus and powerful center Sylvia Fowles, holding them both below their averages.Against the Bulls, UConn did pretty well on offense, too.Barbara Turner, sidelined the previous game with a calf sprain, returned with 16 points and seven rebounds for UConn (18-2, 7-0). Brittany Hunter added 11 points and Charde Houston had 10 as the Huskies won their sixth straight game to remain a half-game ahead of Rutgers (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today, No. 10 AP) in the Big East. The Scarlet Knights (14-3, 6-0) beat No. 21 Notre Dame 69-43 on Tuesday.A fatigued Dickson came out of the game for good with nine minutes to play after shooting 2-for-9 overall and missing all four of her 3-point attempts."I had to work to get open and it did have an effect on me," she said. "My legs got a little tired."Point guard Renee Montgomery ran the Huskies' uptempo attack and tied her career high with nine assists. The Huskies had 21 points on fastbreaks.Shantia Grace led the Bulls (13-7, 3-4) with 12 points and five assists. Sharon Cambridge added 10 points and Ezria Parsons had eight rebounds."UConn had the drive, they brought a ton of energy and they brought a ton of enthusiasm," South Florida coach Jose Fernandez said. "They did whatever they wanted to do tonight. I'm very disappointed."The Huskies lead the short series 3-0 but it was the first meeting since the Bulls joined the Big East. Last season, the Huskies beat South Florida 75-67 in the first overtime game for the UConn women at Gampel Pavilion.This time, however, the Huskies got out quickly in transition and opened the game with a 13-2 run. Ann Strother and Thomas each had 3-pointers off the break. UConn needed all of that cushion as the Bulls hit five of their next six shots. But the 5-foot-11 Dickson had just one basket in the rally. Thomas and Nicole Wolff alternated defending her, harassing her at every turn."[Mel] has an intensity level about her that keeps the fire burning inside, she never lets the fire die. Nicole's the same way," Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said. "We had two guys guarding that kid that don't get tired. She could have run them off screens all night and those kids aren't going to get tired."Grace's pullup jumper got the Bulls within 24-19 with 6:38 remaining. The Huskies quickly called a timeout to regroup and went to work in the paint.Hunter had seven points in a 9-2 run, largely on inside baskets, and the Huskies led 43-29 at halftime. UConn hit seven of its first 10 shots to open the second half and the Bulls never recovered."After that everybody just kind of focused," Hunter said. "We had an advantage inside and said if you miss a couple of jump shots in a row, just throw it inside and go where it's working."UConn outscored the Bulls 40-6 in the paint.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||20-60 (.333)||30-54 (.556)|
|3P Made-Attempted||2-13 (.154)||6-15 (.400)|
|FT Made-Attempted||5-9 (.556)||11-14 (.786)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||13 (0/0)||12 (0/0)|