Seven BIG EAST women’s basketball teams were in action on Wednesday night, including three conference games. Three teams earned road wins, including No. 2/2 Connecticut, Pittsburgh and Villanova. No. 12/12 Notre Dame won at home.
Senior Maya Moore had 21 points, eight assists, and six rebounds to help No. 2/2 Connecticut beat St. John’s 84-52 at Madison Square Garden.
It’s the second time this season that Moore’s had the chance to play at the historic arena. The Huskies beat then-No. 11/10 Ohio State on Dec. 19 for their 88th straight win en route to the NCAA-record 90 wins in a row.
“I didn’t realize that we would get to play here twice,” Moore said. “Every time we come here it’s a great stage for basketball. You get excited.”
The win also was the 750th for UConn’s head coach Geno Auriemma. He’s only lost 123 games in his 26 seasons at UConn (15-1, 5-0 BIG EAST). Four of Auriemma’s victories have come at MSG where he hasn’t lost.
“I always look forward to coming here,” the Hall of Fame coach said. “You always are excited to be in this building. The lights go on its just different, different than any other place.”
Trailing 8-6 early on, UConn scored the next 21 points to take command of the game. Freshman Stefanie Dolson started the spurt with a layup and junior Tiffany Hayes capped it with a 3-pointer that made it 27-8 with 10:38 left in the half.
Hayes and freshman Samarie Walker had six points during the spurt. Hayes had 21 points in the game and Walker finished with a career-high 15.
Junior Da’Shena Stevens scored 12 points for St. John’s, which has lost four straight games and fell out of the AP poll for the first time this season Monday.
The Red Storm (12-5, 1-3 BIG EAST) were ranked for 16 straight weeks—the longest run in school history.
“Our players had a false sense of security a little bit,” remarked St. John’s head coach Kim Barnes Arico. “Because we had a great group coming back and we started really strong in the non-league. And I think they got a little bit comfortable. We kind of lost that edge that we had; going into games with ‘Hey lets upset somebody, let’s fight, let’s try to get a win here.’ I’ve been trying to be demanding, but I’ve been trying to be positive.”
Barnes Arico continued, “We’re still very young, we had that great run last year, but we start three sophomores sometimes, a junior, we only have two seniors on the team. So I’m just trying to be positive, try to keep them to get that edge back a little bit, that fight back a little bit to what we had last year.”
UConn has won the last 27 meetings between the teams with St. John’s last victory coming in 1993.
The game was the second half of a doubleheader at MSG. The Syracuse Orange men’s team beat St. John’s 76-59 in the opener.
In South Bend, Ind., senior Devereaux Peters and freshman Kayla McBride scored 14 points each as No. 12/12 Notre Dame cruised to an 80-60 victory over Louisville.
Sophomore Skylar Diggins and junior Natalie Novosel scored 12 points each, while seniors Brittany Mallory and Becca Bruszewski added 11 each for the Irish (14-4, 3-1 BIG EAST).
Sophomore Asia Taylor had 16 points for Louisville (12-6, 3-1 BIG EAST). Freshman Shoni Schimmel scored 11 and junior Monique Reid added 10.
Notre Dame used a 16-2 run to close the first half and take a 37-22 lead at the break.
Louisville shot around 30 percent for much of the game before finishing at 34 percent (21-of-61)—including 4-of-17 on 3-pointers. Notre Dame was at 47 percent (26-of-55) overall and 4-of-10 on 3s.
Pittsburgh senior Taneisha Harrison had 19 points, 11 of those in the second half, to lift the Panthers to a 64-58 victory at Seton Hall. Pitt senior Jania Sims collected 18 points, which included a 3-of-5 performance from three-point range. Senior Shayla Scott corralled 11 rebounds, her fourth double-digit rebounding effort of the season.
“It was nice to play in front of a lot of family and friends,” said Sims. “It feels great to get the first BIG EAST win of the season and while it may not have been our best performance – it is a victory on the road in a tough league. Leeza came off the bench and was a good spark for us and I thought collectively we played well as a group.”
Freshman Leeza Burdgess finished with six points and seven rebounds.
Pitt led by as many as 19 points in the second half and outrebounded the Pirates 50-33.
Junior Kandice Greeen paced Seton Hall (7-10, 0-4 BIG EAST) with 10 points.
The Pirates scored 23 of their total 58 points from the free throw line (23-of-32).
In nonconference action, Villanova knocked off Penn 57-52 at the Palestra. The Wildcats improved to 8-8, while Penn moved to 5-7.
The victory improves Villanova's all-time Big Five record to 92-35. The 92 wins ties Saint Joseph's for the most Big Five victories by a Big Five women's program.
The Wildcats came out sizzling to start the game. Villanova raced to a 10-0 lead en route to a 21-9 advantage with 11:59 left in the first half. The Wildcats made eight of their first 11 shots, including 5-of-7 from behind the arc.
VU held a 38-28 lead at halftime. Penn cut it to five late in the second half, but could not get any closer.
Sophomore Rachel Roberts led the Wildcats with 17 points, while sophomore Laura Sweeney had 16 points and junior Sarah Jones netted 13 points. Sweeney also had nine rebounds, four blocks, three steals and three assists. Alyssa Baron paced the Quakers with a game-high 23 points.
Material from interviews, the Associated Press wire service as well as league and team sources was used in this report.