BIG EAST women’s basketball teams return from a few days off for Christmas and showed little signs of a layoff, going 6-1 on Tuesday night. All four ranked teams won easily, including No. 1/1 UConn which won its 90th in a row. The Huskies won at Pacific 85-42. No. 17/17 St. John’s beat Liberty 81-66, No. 19/18 Georgetown steam rolled Houston 77-37 and No. 24/RV Syracuse walloped St. Francis (Pa.) 94-60.
Other action saw Pittsburgh slam Austin Peay 75-53 and Louisville destroy Tennessee-Martin 92-67. The lone loss was a tough one as Cincinnati lost a heartbreaker to No. 23/RV Texas at the buzzer 80-77.
Senior Maya Moore had 17 points and eight rebounds, leading UConn to its 90th straight victory with an 85-42 win over Pacific, a lopsided West Coast warmup ahead of the Huskies’ showdown with No. 9/8 Stanford on Thursday.
“Sometimes it can help you and sometimes it can backfire,” UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said of this type of game. “Stanford played today. They won by a thousand. They’re ready to go and we’re out here getting banged around by these kids. I just think playing anybody, doesn’t matter who it is, right after the holidays is never easy.”
UConn (12-0), on the court in Northern California only a few hours after the Cardinal whipped No. 4/4 Xavier 89-52 at Maples Pavilion, was solid and methodical in its first game since topping the 88-game winning streak set by John Wooden’s UCLA men’s team from 1971-74 by beating No. 22 Florida State 93-62 on Dec. 21.
The Tigers committed 22 turnovers, shot 27.8 percent and gave up a 30-2 second-half run.
The game Thursday is a rematch of last year’s NCAA championship game won 53-47 by the Huskies after Stanford led 20-12 at halftime. UConn hasn’t lost since a defeat to Stanford in the 2008 NCAA semifinals.
Pacific fans waved their “WITNESS HISTORY” signs at the sold-out, rocking Spanos Center, which packed in more than its 6,150 capacity for the school’s largest crowd ever at a women’s game and first sellout—in fact, more than three times bigger than the previous-best draw of 1,917 against Cal Poly on Feb. 21, 2009.
The Huskies lost senior key reserve guard Lorin Dixon for Tuesday’s game and probably Thursday, too, after she sprained her left foot in Monday’s practice. Dixon was hurt when she came down on a teammate’s foot. UConn said she could undergo an X-ray on Wednesday at Stanford if the foot doesn’t show improvement.
Junior Tia Magee scored 15 points and sophomore Sugar Rodgers had 13, leading Georgetown to a 77-37 victory over Houston. The Cougars (8-3) were without injured senior Courtney Taylor, but it likely wouldn’t have mattered.
Houston entered the game leading Conference USA in scoring 77.4 points per game, but Georgetown’s defense smothered the Cougars.
The Hoyas (11-3) had already built a 35-6 lead, when Houston made their first team field goal, a 3-pointer with 2:53 remaining in the first half.
St. John’s needed a late surge to salvage a surprisingly difficult 81-66 victory over Liberty. Sophomore Shenneika Smith tied her career high with 28 points and junior teammate Da’Shena Stevens added 20.
The Red Storm (12-1) led 62-60 with 5:53 left, before finally shaking the pesky Lady Flames (4-7). It was the 11th straight win for St. John’s, which will meet No. 18/20 Maryland on Wednesday in the championship game of the two-day Terrapin Classic.
Stevens, a junior forward, became the 17th player in St. John’s history to score 1,000 career points. She has 1,015 in 78 games.
Junior Iasia Hemingway had 22 points and 10 rebounds, while sophomore Kayla Alexander added 20 points and 11 rebounds as Syracuse beat St. Francis, Pa., 94-60.
Sophomore Carmen Tyson-Thomas added 10 points and 10 rebounds for Syracuse (10-1). It marked the first time the Orange had three players register double-doubles in a game since 1989.
Syracuse shot 70.6 percent (24 of 34) in the second half. Alexander came back from a sluggish start, scoring 15 points after the break.
The Orange began the second half with a 13-5 rush to take firm control and matched the school record for assists with 30 on 38 baskets. Senior guard Tasha Harris handed out 10 assists.
Louisville defeated University of Tennessee-Martin 92-67 in the KFC Yum! Center. The Cardinals improve to 10-5 on the season and have scored 90 plus points in a game for the fifth time this season.
Louisville finished with four players in double figures, led by freshman Shoni Schimmel with 24 points, a career-high 12 assists and a career-high seven steals for her first career double-double. Monique Reid finished with 20 points.
The Cardinals led 50-25 at the break. It was the fifth time this season the Cardinals have scored at least 50 points in a half.
Pittsburgh (7-5) rolled over Austin Peay 75-53 led by two players with double-doubles. Seniors Chelsea Cole and Shayla Scott led the way, each capturing double-doubles for the Panthers. Cole had 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Scott posted 12 points and 13 boards.
Scott just missed Pitt’s first triple double since 2002 - adding eight assists to her line score. The double-double was the seventh of the season for Cole, who leads the BIG EAST in the category.
The last time two Pitt players had double-doubles in the same contest was last season versus Villanova (Feb. 17, 2010). Ironically, it was the same two Pitt players –Scott had 18 points and 11 rebounds while Cole had 15 points and 16 rebounds in a 74-69 road win.
Cincinnati (6-5) lost a heartbreaker to No. 23/RV Texas in the first day of the Maggie Dixon Surf N Slam Classic in San Diego. Senior Shareese Ulis scored 20 points, but Texas hit a last-second 3-pointer to win it.
Senior Chanel Chisholm scored a career-high 16 points and freshman Jeanise Randolph posted her first career double-double with a career-best 11 points and 13 rebounds.
The Bearcats (6-5) outrebounded the bigger Longhorns 41-31, shot a season-best 55 percent from the field and scored a season-high 77 points.
The Bearcats will take on Hofstra in the consolation final on Thursday, Dec. 30 at 9 p.m. ET.
Material from interviews, the Associated Press wire service as well as league and team sources was used in this report.