MAYA MOORE INTERVIEW
GENO AURIEMMA INTERVIEW
HARTFORD, Conn. -- Maya Moore scored 22 points and Kelly Faris added 19 to lead top-ranked Connecticut to a 75-51 win over Rutgers on Monday night in the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship presented by American Eagle Outfitters.
UConn (31-1) has won 19 straight games since losing to Stanford on Dec. 30 to snap the Huskies' record 90-game winning streak. It will be the 21st time in the past 23 seasons that they are in the championship game.
Coming off one of the worst offensive games of her career, Moore took only four minutes to eclipse the season-low six points she had against Georgetown.
Rutgers (19-12) had no answer for the three-time All-American. She helped break open a tight game, hitting two 3-pointers during an 11-0 run.
The Huskies will play either second-seeded DePaul or third seed Notre Dame in the championship game Tuesday night. UConn is trying to win its fourth straight Big East tournament championship and 17th overall. It was the Huskies' 80th consecutive victory at home and 68th straight conference win.
Their last loss in the conference was at Rutgers on Feb. 5, 2008. The Scarlet Knights also handed Connecticut its last home loss in the championship game of the 2007 Big East tournament.
Rutgers wasn't able to mount much of a challenge on Monday night because of Moore.
Leading 18-14 midway through the first half, she sparked a 11-0 run to help UConn take control of the game. Moore started the spurt with a 3-pointer and then hit another after Faris had her own 3.
Moore capped off the burst with two free throws to make it 29-14. She had outscored Rutgers 15-14 at that point.
When she wasn't scoring, she was passing to open teammates for baskets. With 5 seconds left in the half, Moore took the ball from the top of the key and passed to a wide-open Bria Hartley for a 3-pointer as the halftime buzzer sounded. The Huskies led 39-20 at the break.
Unlike in the Georgetown game on Sunday when the Huskies let a 20-point halftime lead slip to 11, they wouldn't allow the Scarlet Knights to rally.
The Scarlet Knights got within 16 on Erica Wheeler's 3-pointer 2 minutes into the second half. UConn promptly answered with 14 of the next 16 points highlighted by a full-court pass from Faris to Moore for a layup and a three-point play by the senior that made it 54-27.
Rutgers didn't get within 19 after that.
Wheeler finished with 17 points to lead the Scarlet Knights.
About the only thing that went wrong for Moore was that she got hit in the face on a 3-pointer in the first half. She sported a bandage on her chin for the second half.
She left the game with over 9 minutes left to a loud ovation.
The Scarlet Knights had won five in a row, including a 68-62 win over Marquette in the quarterfinals. The Scarlet Knights earned the No. 4 seed in the conference and a double bye. Their late season surge that included victories over West Virginia, Syracuse and the Golden Eagles will likely have them in the NCAA tournament for the ninth straight season.