(8) Connecticut 79

(24-3, 12-1 Big East)

Notre Dame 64

(14-10, 5-8 Big East)

    7:00 PM ET, February 19, 2006

    1 2 T
    #8CONN 37 4279
    ND 33 3164

    Top Performers

    Connecticut: A. Strother 19 Pts, 4 Reb

    Notre Dame: B. Gray 12 Pts, 2 Reb

    Huskies top Irish to clinch No. 2 seed in Big East tourney

    SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- When Ann Strother started playing calm, Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma calmed down as well.

    That's because he knew the game was in hand.

    "When she's calm, she knows where she's going and we get her in the right spot," Auriemma said. "I don't think there's anyone in the country that I would trust to make a big shot more than her."

    Strother lived up to her coach's expectations Sunday night, scoring 11 of her 19 points during a decisive run midway through the second half to lead Connecticut (No. 6 ESPN/USA Today; No. 8 AP) to a 79-64 victory over Notre Dame.

    UConn led 52-48 when Strother made a pair of free throws and a pair of 3-pointers to give the Huskies a 60-51 lead. Strother added another 3 during the run to give the Huskies a 15-point lead. UConn stretched the lead to 18 points twice before finally winning by 15.

    "That was the point in the game where something had to happen. It was going to be them or it was going to be us," Strother said. "Being a senior, you want to make sure it's your team that's doing the stomping."

    Auriemma compared Strother to Diana Taurasi, a fearless guard who led the Huskies to titles in 2002, 2003 and 2004.

    "Ann since her freshman year has wanted to be in that position and she's made an unbelievable amount of shots in her four years," he said. "Everybody remembers Diana because Diana had a flair for the game. But Ann, if you look back at her career, has made an awful lot of big shots."

    The Huskies (24-3, 12-1 Big East) clinched the No. 2 seed in the Big East tournament. The Irish (14-10, 5-8), who have lost three straight, are 11th in the Big East and in danger of missing the 12-team league tournament.

    Strother was 5-for-8 from 3-point range. Renee Montgomery had 15 points, Charde Houston 14 and Barbara Turner, who had nine rebounds, scored 11 of her 13 in the second half.

    The difference in the second half was the Huskies attacked the Irish zone instead of settling for jump shots.

    "In the second half, we really got inside them and really attacked and created a lot of those fouls," Auriemma said.

    Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said the Irish, who battled back from nine points down in the first half to take the lead in the second half, played well for 32 minutes -- which isn't enough against a team like UConn.

    "We just didn't have the offensive firepower to get back into the game at the point," she said.

    Charel Allen, Lindsay Schrader and Breona Gray each had 12 points for the Irish, and Megan Duffy added 11.

    Duffy said the Irish, who have three games left, know they can't afford any more losses.

    "We need to win every single one of them," she said.

    Auriemma, meanwhile, had his thoughts on Strother and postseason awards.

    "I've never sat here and campaigned for anybody to be an All-American, but I find myself doing that for her because I don't know that if you're not paying attention you appreciate all the things that she does for us," he said.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 79 64
    FG Made-Attempted 26-56 (.464) 23-51 (.451)
    3P Made-Attempted 10-19 (.526) 4-7 (.571)
    FT Made-Attempted 17-23 (.739) 14-23 (.609)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 17 (0/0) 18 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 18 3

    Game Leaders

    PointsA. Strother 19B. Gray 12
    ReboundsB. Turner 10C. Erwin 7

    2005-06 Season

    » Feb 19, 2006 CONN 79, @ND 64Recap | Box Score
    Mar 5, 2006 @CONN 71, ND 60Recap | Box Score