Beasts of the East: No. 5 Connecticut puts away DePaul

STORRS, Conn. (AP) -- Connecticut (No. 5 ESPN/USA Today; No. 7 AP) remained undefeated in the Big East on Wednesday night, surviving its first real challenge from a conference opponent.

Kalana Greene scored 25 points and pulled down 12 rebounds, and Charde Houston added 19 points, 17 in the second half, to help UConn (17-2, 7-0) hold off DePaul, 88-76.

The Huskies, who had won their first six conference games by an average of 37 points, led this one by just five with 2 minutes left, before closing the game with a 10-3 run.

"It was just about keeping our composure and running our offense, just hitting the open player and knocking down our shots," Houston said.

Caprice Smith led DePaul (13-7, 3-4) with 19 points. Allie Quigley added 16, and Jenna Rubino and China Threatt had 15 apiece.

Rubino and Smith both fouled out of the game, leaving the Blue Demons with just five healthy players, all on the court when the buzzer sounded. DePaul has been set back by injuries this season, and dressed just eight players, seven who were healthy enough to play.

"Understanding and overcoming adversity is a major part of why we compete," DePaul coach Doug Bruno said. "There's always execution as well. You have to make stops defensively."

DePaul never led, but trailed 76-71, when Rubino hit a 3-pointer with 2:53 left, and 78-75 after a Smith jumper with 2:05 remaining.

Connecticut brought the lead back to nine, 82-73 on a tip-in by Brittany Hunter and a jumper by Greene, before Quigley hit another 3-pointer with 43 seconds left to make it 82-76.

But Rubino was called for an intentional foul after Hunter broke free on the ensuing inbounds pass, and the Huskies made their free throws down the stretch.

"I thought the last 3, 4, 5 minutes, when they made some big buckets, we kind of came down and answered every time," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "And we did keep a semblance of calm down toward the end."

UConn scored the first six points of the game, but only led 24-22 after Quigley hit a 25-foot shot midway through the first half.

Greene and Brittany Hunter scored the next 10 points and the Huskies led 42-34 at halftime.

Greene had her third double-double and Houston scored in double figures for the 12th time this season. Greene now leads the team in scoring, averaging 13 points a game.

"I'm just looking to be aggressive and do whatever my team needs me to do," she said.

Freshman Tina Charles had 11 points for UConn, all before intermission and played just 2 minutes in the second half after hurting her left wrist.

DePaul, which came into the game leading the conference in 3-pointers made, hit 3 of 13 from behind the arc before intermission, and 5 of 17 for the game.

Mel Thomas hit consecutive 3-pointers in an 8-0 run that made the lead 64-47 about 8 minutes into the second half.