2:00 PM ET, February 22, 2009
HARTFORD, Conn. -- Maya Moore figures a tough game every now and then will be for good for top-ranked Connecticut in the long run.Moore scored 18 points to help Connecticut remain unbeaten with a 76-66 victory over No. 24 Notre Dame on Sunday -- the smallest margin of victory for the Huskies this season."Every game isn't going to be a 30-point win," Moore said. "Sometimes you have to grind 'em out. Challenging us is good for us. When teams don't just lay down and let us do whatever we want, it makes us better."Renee Montgomery led UConn with 20 points, eight assists and five steals and Tina Charles had 19 points and eight rebounds as the Huskies (27-0, 13-0 Big East) posted their 37th consecutive home win. It was their fifth win over a Top 25 team this season -- they beat the first four by an average of just under 35 points.Before Sunday, UConn's toughest game was an 11-point win over Georgia Tech in the season opener.Despite the loss, Notre Dame (18-7, 7-6) played one of its better games."We know we can play with an athletic team like this," Ashley Barlow said after leading the Irish with 18 points. "We've just got to continue working at it and controlling the pace, like we did today."Lindsay Schrader added 17 points and 11 rebounds for Notre Dame, which dropped to 5-3 against Top 25 teams."After this game we have an attitude that we can play with anybody," Schrader said. "I mean, the number-one ranked team, and we're coming in here and we're playing them tough."The Irish led for much of the first half, and were ahead 43-41 almost four minutes into the second -- the first time the Huskies trailed after intermission this season."They play with four guards, so it keeps us from playing one of our big guys," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "They're not easy to play against and the first half wasn't easy for us at all, because we had a couple of defensive mistakes."A pair of baskets by Moore and two 3-pointers by Montgomery started a 22-1 run over the next seven minutes that put the game away. During the span, Moore had 12 points and Montgomery added two assists and two steals."It will be at a timeout or something and coach will be, 'We need a run so make it happen," Montgomery said. "I just take that and I just try to make a play for myself or for someone else."The Huskies had trailed for just over 27 minutes all season. But UConn missed its first five shots and the Irish took a 6-0 lead, the biggest deficit the Huskies have faced all year.Connecticut didn't get its first basket until Charles hit a layup three minutes into the game. Montgomery gave UConn its first lead with a 3-pointer that made it 11-10.The Irish led 33-28 before an 8-0 Huskies' run gave Connecticut a 36-33 lead at intermission.Notre Dame shot 43 percent in the first half and made 4-for-7 3-point shots, including three by Barlow.The Huskies have won six consecutive games against the Irish, a team UConn has lost to four times since 2000.Connecticut can clinch at least a tie for its 17th Big East regular-season title with a win over Villanova on Tuesday. UConn can complete the third undefeated season in the program's history with wins over Villanova, Seton Hall and Rutgers.Notre Dame is aiming for a first-round bye in the conference tournament, given to the top eight teams. They entered the game ranked sixth in the Big East.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||26-62 (.419)||29-61 (.475)|
|3P Made-Attempted||5-12 (.417)||7-13 (.538)|
|FT Made-Attempted||9-12 (.750)||11-16 (.688)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||16 (0/0)||10 (0/0)|