Huskies' Greene sets the tone in Big East semis win

HARTFORD, Conn. -- After blowing out Louisville, the Connecticut Huskies (No. 3 ESPN/USA Today; No. 2 AP) stuck around to watch only the first half of the second Big East semifinal.

It didn't matter to them who they'd play for their third consecutive conference tournament title.

"I don't think that has anything to do with anything," said guard Keisha Swanier. "As long as our team comes in and plays their 'A' game, that's all we have to worry about is ourselves."

UConn (29-2) was clicking in a 76-50 victory over the Cardinals (No. 21 ESPN/USA Today; No. 23 AP) on Monday. Kalana Greene scored 20 points, Renee Montgomery had 14 and Charde Houston added 10 points, 15 rebounds and four steals for the Huskies (29-2), who led by as many as 37 in the second half.

They'll face Rutgers (No. 21 ESPN/USA Today; No. 19 AP), a 63-55 winner over Marquette (No. 19 ESPN/USA Today; No. 21 AP) in the second semifinal.

Louisville's Angel McCoughtry, the Big East player of the year, led the Cardinals (26-7) with nine points, but didn't get her first until there was 8:09 left and the game was out of reach. She took just one shot before picking up her second foul four minutes into the game, didn't play again before intermission, and picked up her third foul just a minute into the second half.

McCoughtry came into the game leading the Big East in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 22 points and almost 11 rebounds. She fouled out with 1:17 remaining.

With McCoughtry on the bench, UConn opened an 18-point halftime lead.

"I figured I wanted to come in the second half, work hard and try to cut the lead down, and try to win," McCoughtry said. "We just continued to turn the ball over and give them easy transition points."

Connecticut trailed just once, after Louisville's Brandie Radde scored the first five points of the game in the first minute. The Huskies responded with a 14-2 run.

The Cardinals hit three of their first 10 shots from the floor, and UConn led 16-11 midway through the first half.

Then Greene took over, scoring 10 points over the next 10 minutes. Her steal and length of the court drive just before the half gave UConn a 38-20 lead.

The Huskies scored the first nine points after the break, and the rout was on. When Greene made another steal and layup with 11:56 remaining, UConn led by 32.

"We made a point to tell Kalana, 'You need to be involved right from the opening tap, impose yourself upon the game," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "I thought the first half was just spectacular, she was just unbelievable."

UConn held Louisville to just 24 percent shooting, and dominated underneath, outrebounding the Cardinals 42-28.

"We want to take Louisville to that level," Louisville coach Tom Collen said. "I think UConn's made a lot of teams look really, really bad."

Connecticut advanced to its 17th Big East championship and is playing for its 14th title.

The Huskies have now won six in a row against ranked teams, routing each of the last three by more than 20 points. Their only losses this year came at home to Tennessee and at North Carolina.

"So they had a choice," Auriemma said. "Should we go out to dinner with our parents or sit here and watch another basketball game, and If I was them, I'd go out to dinner."

The Cardinals, who also were routed by UConn 84-56 in Storrs on Feb. 13, had won four of their last five games, school single-season record for wins.