MILWAUKEE – With Maya Moore watching from the bench for all but 18 minutes, Tina Charles picked up the slack for the Connecticut Huskies as they defeated the Marquette Golden Eagles 68-43 Wednesday at the Al McGuire Center.
Charles, a consensus All-American, matched Marquette in the first half with 20 points on an array of post moves, simply having her way against a smaller Golden Eagles team. On the other hand, Moore added only four points for the Huskies, a career low for the reigning National Player of the Year.
Despite the lack of points and three early fouls through the first eight minutes, head coach Geno Auriemma credited Moore with being the main reason for the team's 15-0 run that helped the Huskies pull away in the first half.
"That whole stretch where we took off in the first half, she was the reason. She got every defensive rebound, she was involved in every defensive play", Auriemma said. "You don't just have to dominate by scoring 30, you can make every big play that helps our team win and I thought she did that."
Even without Moore, the Huskies racked up their 55th-straight victory, giving UConn the second-longest winning streak in women's college basketball history. Auriemma's Huskies also hold the record for the longest winning streak – 70-staight from 2001 to 2003.
Tatiyana McMorris poured in a season-high 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting for Marquettes and was the lone bright spot for a Golden Eagles team that matched their season-low in points. The Huskies used stifling defense to hold the Golden Eagles to just over 20-percent shooting from the field and, outside of the red-hot McMorris, 1-of-10 from downtown.
Guard Angel Robinson was held scoreless on 12 shots and committed three turnovers in the contest.
With the Huskies starters on the bench the majority of the second half, the Golden Eagles showed some fight and were only outscored by one point. Head coach Teri Mitchell said the loss will be a good lesson for her team down the road.
"We fought. Every person [who] was out there dove for every loose ball. We tried to get after every rebound. We were physical", Mitchell said. "I kept talking about that at halftime, that what we do in the second half is going to say a lot about how we approach Villanova [on Saturday]."
With just under two minutes left in the game and Connecticut up by 25, Auriemma pulled a unique tactic by having his team hold the ball in the backcourt and waiting for the shot clock to expire. Upset by fouls calls and the physicality of the game, he took two shot clock violations before handing the ball over to Marquette. 38 fouls were called, and the teams turned the ball over a combined 42 times, making for a sloppy contest Auriemma wanted no part of at the end.