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No. 5 UConn breezes to 8-0 in Big East play

STORRS, Conn. -- Connecticut freshman Tina Charles came within a blocked shot of recording the first triple double at UConn in 18 years.

Charles had 12 points, 10 rebound and tied a school-record with nine blocks to help No. 7 UConn run its Big East conference record to 8-0 with a 64-47 win over Notre Dame on Saturday night.

Charles, who has 42 blocks this season, said coach Geno Auriemma has been getting on her to improve that part of her game.

"I wouldn't really say I work on it," she said. "I just have to play in help defense, so if like Renee [Montgomery] brings a girl toward me, I'm just going to try to block that shot."

Kalana Greene added 10 points, seven rebounds and four blocks for Connecticut (18-2), which had 16 rejections in the game.

"It changed the game a lot," said Notre Dame freshman Erica Williamson. "You can't go into a game like this having practiced against people that can block so many shots. Their athletic ability is through the roof."

Williamson had 12 points to lead Notre Dame (13-7, 4-3 Big East) and another freshman, Crystal Erwin added 11.

"Our freshmen have come along quickly and are doing great things for us," Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. "It makes me excited about the future when I watch our team, because we came into this we little hope from people outside our locker room. I think we're in great shape right now."

The Huskies jumped to an early 8-4 lead, in what was a sloppy game, as Renee Montgomery hit her first three shots.

Notre Dame shot just 24 percent from the floor, and hit just one of its first 11 attempts from the field. But the Irish were able to stay in the game thanks to 15 first-half turnovers by Connecticut, eight in the first 10 minutes of the game.

The two teams combined for 45 giveaways -- 27 turnovers for Connecticut and 18 for Notre Dame.

"It looked like we were our own worst enemy for a while there," said Auriemma.

UConn led just 29-23 at the half, and got its first double-digit lead, 35-25, three minutes into the second half on a spin move and bucket by Charde Houston.

The Huskies stretched that to 18 after Erwin was called for an intentional foul. Houston hit one foul shot, and Charles hit a turnaround on the ensuing possession to put UConn up 54-36.

The Huskies have won their last three games against the Irish, and have won 196 consecutive games against unranked opponents at home.

During that time, the Huskies have had stars such as Diana Taurasi, Rebecca Lobo and Sue Bird. But according to UConn officials, Laura Lishness is the only UConn player to get a triple double, recording 14 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists back in March, 1989, against Providence in the Big East Tournament.

Charles said it's something she feels she can accomplish.

"Probably in the future, you know, next game," she said. "I don't aim to get a triple-double, I just aim just to get a W."

Notre Dame was playing its second consecutive game against a ranked opponent. The Irish lost to No. 17 Marquette on Tuesday, 71-62, and play at Pittsburgh on Jan. 31.