Win Streak Extended to 93 Games

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Bria Harley scored 18 points and No. 2 Connecticut extended its NCAA-record home winning streak to 93 games with a 79-60 win over West Virginia on Wednesday night.

Five players scored in double figures for UConn (12-1, 2-0 Big East), which broke open a close game in the second half.

Kelly Faris had 14 points, five rebounds, five assists and six steals. Tiffany Hayes had 13 points, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis added 12 and Caroline Doty chipped in 11.

Asya Bussie had 17 of her 19 points in the second half and Christal Caldwell added 17 points to lead West Virginia (10-4, 1-1), which has lost 24 straight games to Connecticut after winning the first contest between the two schools back in 1982.

It was the 44th consecutive Big East win for UConn and its 24th consecutive win in conference home openers.

UConn led just 34-27 at halftime, but opened the second half on a 9-1 run, holding the Mountaineers without a field goal for the first 6 1/2 minutes after intermission.

Hartley appeared to injure her left elbow when she crashed to the floor early in the second half, but returned 3 minutes later.

She hit a spinning shot in the lane as the shot clock was expiring to give the Huskies a 48-33 lead. A 3-pointer, followed by a steal and a layup with just under 7 minutes left stretched the lead to 62-45.

Connecticut center Stephanie Dolson was just 1 of 6 from the floor and Mosqueda-Lewis -- a freshman -- missed her first seven shots.

Connecticut pressed West Virginia early, opening a 12-3 lead while forcing 10 early turnovers.

But West Virginia also plays stingy defense, and fought back. The Mountaineers tied the game at 18 on a steal and layup by Jess Harlee.

UConn reeled off the next eight points, but the Mountaineers kept it close. A jumper from just inside 3-point range by West Virginia's Brooke Hampton beat the halftime buzzer to cut the lead to seven.

The Mountaineers held UConn to 37 percent shooting in the first half, but made just 2 of their 11 attempts from beyond the arc and had 18 of their 29 turnovers before halftime.

Connecticut came into the game with an average margin of victory this season of just over 39 points.

The Huskies also lead the nation in scoring defense, giving up just over 41 points a game, while West Virginia had yielded an average of just 45 points -- good for third in the nation behind UConn and South Carolina.

The teams combined for 42 turnovers and 36 personal fouls.

The Huskies have won three straight since being beaten by top-ranked Baylor in Waco, Texas, on Dec. 18.

The Mountaineers had won three in a row, including an 84-36 rout of Elon in their last game on New Year's Eve.

Connecticut hit just four of its 20 3-point attempts, but held West Virginia to 3-of-19 shooting from behind the arc.

Doty, who hadn't turned the ball over since a Nov. 27 win over Dayton, had four of UConn's 13 turnovers.

Connecticut hasn't lost a home game since a 55-47 loss to Rutgers in the 2007 Big East tournament. The Huskies also have won 57 consecutive Big East regular-season games since losing to Rutgers in 2008. The Huskies are now 164-2 in their last 166 conference home games.

The Huskies face their toughest conference test on Saturday, traveling to No. 3 Notre Dame. It will be the first game between the two rivals since the Irish beat UConn in last year's Final Four.

POSTGAME QUOTES (From UConn athletics)

Connecticut Head Coach Geno Auriemma

What's the experience playing a team like West Virginia?

"[Playing a team like West Virginia] makes it difficult to get things accomplished on the offensive end. We've got to be really tough with the ball and really patient and decisive. We have to make sure that whatever we do, know that there is going to be a lot of physical contact. They did a good job tonight getting us out of any rhythm we wanted to be in."

Was it good to see the team get a win when nothing comes easy?

"When you go through the league season there are going to be a lot of [games like this] where it is not just pass and cut. We got a lot of open shots in the first half that didn't go in. We've got to be able to win even when we don't make shots."

What were the main differences between the first and second half?

"I've always said that what makes the game look like its being well played is when you cut and there is some movement. Today that was difficult to do, especially in the first half. There were a lot of fouls called on people trying to move to where they wanted to go. Some of that is good defense and some of it is poor execution, but I think you've got to give [West Virginia] credit. If they can [play defense] like that for two halves they've got a chance to win, but fortunately we came out in the second half and were able to create more space."

Junior Guard Kelly Faris

How satisfying is it to win a game like this where nothing came easy?

"It's not very satisfying. It was a frustrating game. It was one of those games where we walk away and it's a win, but it's not very satisfying."

Do you hate these very physical games?

"We should love these games. We should take it as a challenge and think, ‘ok, they are going to get in our face. They are setting it up for us to get all the back doors and points and that sort of thing.' So, it should be a good thing for us to have these games."

Why was it so difficult for the team to get things going tonight?

"I don't know. We are asking ourselves the same questions. I think, again, it just goes back to the fact that we're not very consistent and we can't keep everybody on the same page for a whole game. We have to keep working on it. That's our biggest thing right now."

Senior Guard Tiffany Hayes

On playing West Virginia:

"Tough, it's definitely always a tough game when we play them. They always come out trying to punch us first. They are always physical with us especially down in the post getting rebounds. We just had to fight back today."

On satisfaction winning a tough game:

"Definitely happy we got the win, but we have a lot to work on, especially the rebounds. I think they got a lot of offensive rebounds. That is something we need to work on being tough when teams try to hit us first."

On being worried if Dolson has a bad game:

"We work on things like that, when Stefanie is not in in practice. We go with five guards and practice with the big guys like that. It will definitely

help if she's in the game but if not we will find a way to work around it." Sophomore Guard Bria Hartley

On game being rough:

"It was rough in the beginning. They were very physical and it was something we had to deal with and we struggled a little bit with it. I think we did better in the second half and were able to get some better looks at the basket and score a little more."

On satisfaction from win: "It took a lot to pull out a win and still play hard and to keep trying and working hard out there."

West Virginia Head Coach Mike Carey

Was this a frustrating night with the 29 turnovers?

"We tied it up, they were up seven at halftime, then we cut it back down a little bit, then had a couple of turnovers. Our guards are just young. Every time we didn't go over the pick it would hurt us. They would curl it and get inside. We fouled them a couple times coming in there. They did a good job when we were sagging our center and (Asya) Bussie had to go help on the back door. I told the girls, ‘We do it in practice. Why wouldn't do it in games?' We've just got to get better. I do think that some of our girls played extremely hard. Connecticut played extremely hard. We've just got to get better as a team."

Can you talk about the difference with (Asya) Bussie in the second half?

"We started giving her the ball. It's hard to get your center the ball when you are turning it over. Once we got the ball down in and started saying ‘Get it in to Bussie and get her the ball,'…At least we had the opportunity to score. A couple of times we went into the press and got a turnover. I guess I have to do a better job of teaching our kids how to take the ball out of bounds because we just kept passing it to the other team. I don't understand that. This will be great film for tomorrow. I can't wait to get to film, and I'm sure they can't either."

dYou were down seven at the half. What do you think happened in those first few minutes of the second half when UConn went on the 9-0 run?

"We came out not doing the things we were doing in the first half. We were letting them reverse the ball. They (UConn) did a good job – they started getting it to their center and our guards relaxed. They (UConn) adjusted well. I think we had a great game plan, we just didn't execute it. Our guards, on the offensive end, stood and held the ball too much. We weren't moving the ball and dribbled it too much. Our spacing was not good. I saw some things out there against the pressure, I don't know what they was. I think we invented some stuff tonight. I'm going to write a book, ‘What Not To Do.' Our spacing was horrendous against their pressure."


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