7:00 PM ET, January 17, 2007
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- After losing to North Carolina on Monday, Connecticut (No. 5 ESPN/USA Today, No. 6 AP) wanted to re-establish itself as a dominant team.They did that Wednesday night at Providence, routing the Friars 96-53.Tina Charles scored 18 points and Mel Thomas added 17 to lead six players in double figures for the Huskies (15-2, 5-0 Big East)."I thought we came out with a tremendous amount of energy and a sense of purpose as well," coach Geno Auriemma said. "We were a little bit concerned how we were going to react coming back from Carolina, because we got back real late, it was a very emotional game and it was a very physical game."The Huskies put this one out of reach before halftime and led by as many as 45 points in the second half. Ketia Swanier had 14 points, 12 after intermission. Renee Montgomery and Kalana Greene added 12 each, and Kaili McLaren chipped in 10."I think everyone just needed a confidence booster," Montgomery said.Providence won its only other game against a Top-25 team this season, beating then No. 12 Louisville 106-94 in double overtime on Jan. 3.Coach Phil Seymore was disappointed by the Friars' effort against the Huskies."As the game went on, there were points where we kind of stopped playing," he said. "Of course, they have a lot more talent than we have, but ... I just really wanted us to go out there and compete and I think at times, we didn't do that."Chelsea Marandola led the Friars (12-6, 4-1) with 19 points. She scored her team's first nine, including a 3-pointer that put Providence up 7-6.But Thomas answered with two 3s and Connecticut never trailed again.The Huskies had a 7-0 run later in the half, and scored the final 11 points to lead 57-30 at halftime.Charles, a freshman, had 15 by the intermission and played just 4 minutes after the break.Thomas, who scored just five points on 2-of-9 shooting Monday against North Carolina, hit 6 of 10 shots against the Friars, including five from behind the arc. Her three 3-pointers in a 14-1 run early in the second half put Connecticut up 74-37."I thought every shot was going in the Carolina game, they just didn't happen to go in," Thomas said. "I thought they were all going in tonight, and a couple more of them just went in. I think I just always have to think that I'm the best shooter out there on the floor and keep shooting when they don't go in. They are not going to go in every night."Providence shot just less than 41 percent from the field, and hit only 2 of 13 shots from 3-point range.Connecticut shot 64.5 percent and dominated underneath. The Huskies had 54 points in the paint, and 11 second-chance points, while holding the Friars to just two. Connecticut also scored 23 points off of 17 Providence turnovers.Thomas said it was an important win, especially after losing to both No. 4 Tennessee and the Tar Heels this month."If you're not careful, you think might be who you are, you might doubt yourself a little bit," she said. "More than anything (the losses) exposed all our weaknesses and shows us what we need to build up as the season goes on to win those games in March."Connecticut has won 22 in a row against Providence. The Huskies have not lost back-to-back games since 1993, a span of 482 games.The game was played at the Dunkin' Donuts Center to accommodate the several thousand UConn fans who made the trip from Connecticut.
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