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Houston, Montgomery power UConn victory

WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) -- Despite what appeared to be an obvious mismatch, Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma knew his seventh-ranked Huskies would be in for a battle.

Trailing by as many eight to Holy Cross in the first half, the Huskies (8-0) woke up in the final minutes before the break and came away with an 83-64 win Monday night. Charde Houston led UConn with 22 points while Renee Montgomery added 16.

As they did in their previous game against Purdue, Connecticut closed the first half with a 17-2 run and used the momentum to pull away in the final 20 minutes.

"You take both sides of the coin," Auriemma said. "You know you have the ability to do that, now make sure you don't put yourself in the position where you have to do that. Right now, I think we're a team of spurts. We can put a lot of points on the board very quickly. I'd just like to see us be a little bit more consistent with it."

The Crusaders (3-6) got seven 3-pointers in the first half and surprisingly grabbed command of the game early with an 11-0 run after Connecticut had two lay-ups in the first 22 seconds.

"It seemed like every time they shot it, it went in," Houston said. "It really made us adjust and open our eyes because if we continue to let that happen, then the outcome wouldn't have been good."

Laura Aloisi and freshman Briana McFadden led Holy Cross with 13 points apiece. McFadden sparked the Crusaders' early surge with consecutive 3s as Holy Cross connected on its first six 3-point attempts.

"Everyone was just ready to shoot and Laura did a good job of getting us open shots and we were able to knock them down," McFadden said. "It was pretty much unbelievable. It seemed like every shot we took we made. It gave us energy and allowed us to play even harder."

"Everyone just fed off each other," Aloisi said. "We had nothing to lose tonight."

Sophomore Jessica Merrihue connected for her team's seventh 3-pointer, giving the Crusaders their biggest lead, 33-25, with just over seven minutes remaining in the first half.

But UConn, which forced 23 turnovers, scored the next 10 points to take the lead for good and closed the opening half with a 17-2 run to take a 42-35 halftime advantage.

"It's almost like you know it's coming," Auriemma said. "You expect it and you just don't know exactly what it is that will trigger it. But usually it's our defense."

Another 10-0 run in the second half put Connecticut ahead, 75-55, with 5:28 remaining.

"It's not going to be one of those easy, 50-point easy wins, regardless of Holy Cross' record," Auriemma said. "They always play us the same way. It's never easy to play Holy Cross, especially up here."