Five BIG EAST women’s basketball teams were in action on Tuesday night, including a historic No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup which saw No. 1/1 UConn beat No. 2/2 Baylor 65-64 at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. The Huskies have won 80 games in a row dating back to the 2009 season-opener. In other league action, No. 13/13 Georgetown topped No. 21/RV Maryland 53-45, No. 20/23 St. John’s rolled over Manhattan 77-51 and Seton Hall clipped Temple 72-59 to give new Pirates head coach Anne Donovan her first win. Villanova lost at Delaware 69-62 to round out BIG EAST play.
Connecticut senior Maya Moore scored a game-high 30 points as the Huskies (2-0) rallied from an eight-point deficit (56-48 with 6:51 left) in the closing minutes. Fueled by a 10-2 run, UConn tied it 58-58 following a clutch 3-pointer from BIG EAST Preseason Freshman of the Year Bria Hartley with 3:58 left in regulation. Minutes later Hartley fired the biggest 3-pointer of her young career, breaking another tie and giving UConn a 63-60 lead with 2:07 left. Moore then hit a jumper in the lane at the 1:16 mark to make it 65-62 Huskies.
Baylor missed its next attempt down the floor but grabbed the rebound to set up a Melissa Jones' layup and bring the Lady Bears within one. With seven seconds on the clock, Moore missed a jumper as Jones grabbed the rebound but Baylor could not get a shot off before time expired, giving UConn the one-point victory.
The contest also marked the 15th time UConn has played in a game featuring the top-two ranked teams in the Associated Press top-25 poll. With the win, UConn moves to 13-2 all-time in those games and now is 10-1 when ranked No. 1 in the country in those contests.
“I was just speechless,” said Moore following the hotly contested barnburner. “The way we responded, that was a really big moment for us. It's so early in the season and we haven't really been tested. I thought we responded well. We did just enough to get it done. At the end of the day, a W is a W.”
"I didn't think they had it in them because they've never had to do something like this before," Geno Auriemma said. "And I don't think they knew they had it in them either."
It was the 46th time that the top two teams in the Associated Press Top 25 poll have played. The No. 1-ranked team holds a 27-19 lead. It also was the earliest that the top teams have played in either men's or women's basketball. UConn improved to 10-1 in those contests as the top team. During its current run, UConn has faced the No. 2 team four other times and won by nearly 17 points a game.
The Hoyas also posted an impressive win, beating Maryland 53-45 for the first time in nine tries. Georgetown (2-0) ended a 10-minute scoring drought with back-to-back 3-pointers late in the second half.
Hobbled with leg cramps, Rubylee Wright made a 3-pointer with 1:39 left to give Georgetown a 46-45 lead. Sugar Rodgers followed with another three seconds later to give the Hoyas breathing room and move to 1-8 against the Terrapins. Rodgers scored a game-high 21 points.
Maryland was hindered by turnovers (29) and poor shooting (18 percent overall) yet still overcame a 35-23 deficit thanks to 63 rebounds and 21 free throws. An 8-0 run gave the Terps a 45-43 lead with 1:56 left, but they did not score again. This was the first meeting between the teams since 2003 and the first in Washington since 1985.
“This was an exciting win for us and it's great for the program, but we still have a lot of games,” said GU head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy. “We have La Salle on Friday and then a very tough road at the Paradise Jam before we get into BIG EAST. So even though this is a big win, it's not the most important game of the year and our girls know that. They've learned how to celebrate and move on to the next one.”
Shooting a season-best 52.5 percent from the field, No. 20/23 St. John's trumped local foe Manhattan, 77-51 in their home-opener. With the win, St. John's has won eight-straight games as the home team, including seven straight in Carnesecca Arena.
The Red Storm (2-1) had four players score in the double-figures. Sophomore guard Shenneika Smith led the team with a season-high 18 points. Smith shot 7-of-11 from the field.
"We did a decent job defending and really playing hard, but we still have a long way to go to be able to put together a solid 40 minutes together," remarked head coach Kim Barnes Arico in her postgame comments. "We showed some spurts of being a good team, which was nice. It was good to bounce back after the K-State loss. It was great to play on our home court. We still have a lot of areas to improve, but it was a bright spot tonight."
An 18-2 run in the second half propelled Seton Hall to an impressive 72-59 win over Temple in the home debut of new head coach Anne Donovan at Walsh Gymnasium. Junior Jasmine Crew led all scorers with 16 points, while junior Kandice Green notched a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Pirates (1-1).
Villanova (1-1) had the only league loss of the evening getting nipped at Delaware 69-62. Villanova owned a 9-8 advantage at the 15:25 mark, before the Wildcats would go cold from the outside. The Wildcats went nearly nine minutes without a field goal and the Blue Hens opened up a 22-9 lead with 8:25 left in the first half. Delaware used a 14-0 run to create a 13-point lead and pushed it to 34-25 at halftime. Villanova rallied late and cut it to four in the closing minutes, but could not pull off the win. Junior Lindsay Kimmel, a transfer from Temple, led the Villanova offense with 20 points. Delaware was led by sophomore Elena Delle Donne, who scored 34 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.