Six conference games highlighted play Saturday in BIG EAST women’s basketball. The standings held to form as the teams with a better record entering the day, held off their opponent in all six contests.
No. 2/2 Connecticut (16-1) beat Louisville (12-7, 3-2 BIG EAST) in front of a sellout crowd of 16,294 at the XL Center. Senior Maya Moore scored a game-high 26 points and grabbed six rebounds, while freshman Bria Hartley added a career-high 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
Junior Tiffany Hayes was injured in the first minute of play and left the game. She did not return to action.
UConn led 31-26 at halftime and was ahead 39-34 with 15:12 left in the game before a 7-0 run expanded the lead to double digits where it remained the rest of the contest.
“She was going for the ball and didn’t see me, and I think her head hit my hip or somewhere hard around my midsection,” Moore said. “And she didn’t get back up kind of quickly, so I knew something had happened pretty serious.”
The Huskies play at No. 11/11 North Carolina on Monday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2. It wasn’t immediately clear if Hayes would be able to make the trip. UConn officials said her symptoms were clearing by the end of the game and she would be reevaluated by the team doctor on Sunday.
Louisville freshman Shoni Schimmel had 15 points and six assists. Junior Monique Reid, who entered the game ranked third in the BIG EAST averaging 16.9 points per game, totaled just four points shooting 1-of-11 from the field.
The win also extended the Huskies home winning streak record to 71 games. UConn hasn’t lost in Storrs or Hartford since being beaten by Rutgers 55-47 in the 2007 Big East tournament championship game. The NCAA considers BIG EAST and NCAA tournament games played at Gampel Pavilion and the XL Center as home games.
It was the second sellout the Huskies have played at the XL Center this season and the 10th for BIG EAST teams this year. Last season BIG EAST teams combined for 13 sellout crowds, the most since 2004-05.
In Morgantown, W.Va., No. 6/7 West Virginia (17-1, 4-1 BIG EAST) held off Syracuse (13-4, 1-3 BIG EAST) by the score of 70-61. WVU redshirt senior Madina Ali scored a career-high 32 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
“It feels good knowing that I’m out there helping the team in any way I can,” Ali said. “We need that energy and everyone brings that on different occasions. Today it just happened to fall the way it did.”
West Virginia bounced back from a 69-54 loss at Marquette on Jan. 11. The Mountaineers improved their school-record home winning streak to 29 games and moved to 3-0 against ranked teams this season.
“I was proud of them,” West Virginia coach Mike Carey said. “They came out and played with a lot of heart and we did what we had to do to win.”
“You can see why West Virginia is a top 10 team,” said Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman. “They came up down the stretch and did some physical things and some hustle things to turn the tide of the game.”
Sophomore Elashier Hall scored 20 points for Syracuse, which was playing only its second road game of the season. Sophomore and leading scorer Kayla Alexander went scoreless in the second half and was held to four points, 10 below her average.
There were four ties and eight lead changes.
No. 12/12 Notre Dame (15-4, 4-1 BIG EAST)knocked off Pittsburgh (9-8, 1-3 BIG EAST) by the score of 82-50 on Jan. 15 at the Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. Notre Dame has won 20 of the 23 matchups.
Sophomore Skylar Diggins scored 20 points to lead the Irish, while senior Devereaux Peters added 15 points and 10 rebounds. Junior Natalie Novosel added 15 points.
Following an early 6-6 tie, Notre Dame went on a run to take a 20-8 lead. The Irish led 50-19 at halftime.
Notre Dame, which had lost its last two at Pitt, shot 46 percent (30-of-64) to Pitt’s 32.7 percent (16-of-49) and led 46-28 in rebounding.
Senior Taneisha Harrison was the only Pitt player in double figures as she had 10 points. Freshman Kyra Dunn had three points and a team-high 10 rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench.
No. RV/22 St. John’s (13-5, 2-3 BIG EAST) won at Seton Hall (7-11, 0-5 BIG EAST) by the score of 58-48 on Jan. 15 to snap a four-game losing streak. St. John’s also swept the season series, beating the Hall at home 71-52 on Dec. 8.
The Red Storm had two players score in double figures, led by sophomore Shenneika Smith with 16 points and classmate Eugeneia McPherson with 14 points. Junior Da’Shena Stevens had seven points and a team-leading nine rebounds in 32 minutes.
St. John’s led 28-21 at the half, holding Seton Hall to just nine first-half field goals. The Red Storm shot 42.6 percent from the field, while holding the Pirates to just 35.2 percent.
For the Pirates, Kandice Green had a near double-double with 15 points and nine boards. Jasmine Crew chipped in 12 points.
St. John’s returns to action as it hosts Cincinnati on Jan. 18 at Noon ET. St. John’s leads the all-time series 4-1, but Cincinnati won the most recent matchup 70-60 on Jan. 10, 2010. The contest between the Red Storm and Bearcats is designated as Field Trip Day, where hundreds of elementary school students from around the Queens area will be in attendance to cheer on the Red Storm.
Rutgers (11-6, 4-0 BIG EAST) won its fourth in a row, following a 55-44 victory at Cincinnati (8-8, 1-3 BIG EAST). Rutgers improved to 7-0 all-time against the Bearcats as redshirt junior guard Khadijah Rushdan and sophomore center Monique Oliver scored 16 points apiece. Junior forward Chelsey Lee was the third Scarlet Knight in double digits with 15 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. For Lee, it was her third double-double of the season and second in as many games.
Having won at Syracuse 78-67 on Jan. 11, the Scarlet Knights have posted back-to-back BIG EAST road wins for the first time since the 2006-07 when they defeated Syracuse 68-34 on Feb. 14 and Villanova 62-32 on Feb. 17. The 4-0 start in BIG EAST play is also the best in conference play since RU started 7-0 in 2007-08.
For the Bearcats, senior Shareese Ulis scored a game-high 20 points and shot 7-of-15 from the field, including five 3-pointers. It was her fourth 20-point performance of the season. Ulis is averaging 17.0 points per game over the last seven contests.
Hoyas senior Monica McNutt had 17 points and a career-high 11 rebounds to record her first double-double of the season and lead No. 18/17 Georgetown past Providence 49-45 on Saturday. It was the Hoyas’ ninth straight win over the Friars.
Georgetown (14-4, 2-2 BIG EAST) won despite a season-low four points from Sugar Rogers, last year’s BIG EAST Freshman of the Year.
Junior Miranda Tate scored 15 points, including three 3-pointers, for Providence (8-8, 1-3 BIG EAST) before leaving in the second half with an ankle injury.
Georgetown led by 11 points in the second half after McNutt’s 3-pointer with 15:39 remaining to put her over the 1,000-point mark for her career. The Friars cut it to four points on a 3-pointer from Lola Wells with 17 seconds remaining, but could not get the win.
Georgetown committed 25 turnovers, but held Providence to 29-percent shooting.
Material from interviews, the Associated Press wire service as well as league and team sources was used in this report.