Three BIG EAST women’s basketball games were on the schedule Wednesday with two teams earning wins at home. Marquette knocked off Louisville 76-65 while Syracuse beat Pittsburgh 69-60. No. 2/2 UConn had the road victory with a 63-44 win at Rutgers.
Of the 54 conference games played this year, home teams have posted a 30-24 mark for a 55.6 winning percentage. In similar fashion last year, home teams went 73-55 over 128 league games for a 57.0 winning percentage.
Head coach Geno Auriemma wasn’t worried as his UConn Huskies suffered through a dismal offensive first half. He knew it would just take a few baskets to get his second-ranked team rolling. At the start of the second half, that’s exactly what happened.
Junior Tiffany Hayes scored 18 points, senior Maya Moore added 17 points and 16 rebounds and Connecticut broke open a close game by scoring the first 13 points of the second half to beat Rutgers.
“We were getting pretty good looks we just need to make some of them,” Auriemma said. “Once some of them went in, boom, boom, boom, boom we get our rhythm back.”
Freshman Bria Hartley had 15 points for UConn (19-1, 8-0 BIG EAST), which has won seven straight since its record 90-game winning streak came to an end against Stanford on Dec. 30. The Huskies have won 58 consecutive conference games, with the last loss coming at Rutgers on Feb. 5, 2008.
UConn led 25-22 at halftime before quickly taking control in the second half. Moore started the spurt with a 3-pointer just 11 seconds in. A 3-pointer by Hartley, pull-up by Moore and 3-pointer by Hayes made it a 16-point game less than 3 minutes later.
Junior April Sykes provided much of the offense for Rutgers (12-7, 5-1 BIG EAST), scoring 20 points.
“We played a really good game defensively,” Auriemma said. “We stayed out of foul trouble.”
The Huskies have fared well against Rutgers lately, winning the last six meetings by more than 20 points a game.
UConn led 25-22 at the half.
Connecticut, which was already thin on the bench with the departure of freshman Samarie Walker to Kentucky last week, got a scare early when Hayes got hurt 41 seconds into the game. She was poked in the face by sophomore Erica Wheeler and went down.
The junior walked off the court and was looked at on the bench for a few minutes before heading back to the locker room. She returned about 5 minutes later, checking back into the game just after the 12-minute mark of the first half.
UConn has won 150 straight against non-ranked opponents, with the last loss coming to Notre Dame on Jan. 13, 2004.
Other league action saw Syracuse hold off Pittsburgh 69-60. Senior guard Erica Morrow netted a team-best 17 points to lead Syracuse (15-4, 3-3 BIG EAST) to a 69-60 victory against Pittsburgh (9-10, 1-5 BIG EAST) at the Carrier Dome. SU shot 69 percent from behind the charity stripe in the win, converting 20-of-29 free throw attempts.
“It was a great win at home, it is so important to win your home conference games and that is all we talk about," Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman said. "We did a good job of rebounding the basketball and made sure they didn’t make a lot of threes on us. We didn’t want (Shayla) Scott and (Taneisha) Harrison to make three’s and they were 1-11 combined from behind the arc. We attacked the rim and just did the things that we do, I’m very happy with the win."
Morrow led the six Orange student-athletes who netted baskets on the night, including four in double figures, and is now only two points away from moving into third on the SU career scoring charts. Sophomore guard Elashier Hall was second on the team with 16 points and eight boards while sophomore center Kayla Alexander added 14 points and eight rebounds.
In Milwaukee, senior guard Tatiyiana McMorris poured in a career-high 21 points to help Marquette defeat Louisville 76-65 at the Al McGuire Center. The Golden Eagles (16-4, 4-3 BIG EAST) had four players score in double figures, including senior Angel Robinson’s 16 points. Freshman Katherine Plouffe and senior Paige Fiedorowicz added 13 and 14 points, respectively, for the Golden Eagles who shot 53.2 percent (25-of-47) for the game, including a season-best 66.7 percent (16-of-24) in the first half.
Louisville (13-8, 4-3 BIG EAST) got a game-high 25 points from freshman Shoni Schimmel and junior Monique Reid chipped in 19 for the Cardinals who finished with 41.4 percent (24-of-58) shooting from the floor.
In a night in which Marquette never trailed, the Golden Eagles opened the game with 12 unanswered points before the Cardinals scored their first basket of the game three minutes into the game.
Marquette moves to 9-13 all-time against Louisville. The win over the Cardinals is MU's first since the 2006-07 season.
Material from interviews, the Associated Press wire service as well as league and team sources was used in this report.