A busy Saturday had 14 league teams in action across seven conference games. Highlighting the contests was a top-10 matchup between No. 2/2 Connecticut and No. 8/8 Notre Dame. The Huskies shook off a slow start and posted a 78-57 victory in the BIG EAST television Network Game of the Week.
Led by freshman Bria Hartley’s career-high 29 points, UConn (26-1, 13-0 BIG EAST) rebounded from a 7-0 deficit and held a 37-29 lead at halftime over the Irish. Senior teammate Maya Moore added 12 points, seven assists and seven rebounds as UConn won for the 11th time in a row over the Irish. It also was the team’s 14th consecutive win since a loss at Stanford.
Notre Dame sophomore Skylar Diggins scored a team-best 22 points, including 17 in the first half. Junior Natalie Novosel added 18 points to round out the double digit scorers. Notre Dame shot 36.4 percent from the field and was held to a season-low 57 points. The game was played before a sellout crowd of 10,167 at Gampel Pavilion and extended the sellout streak of UConn-ND games played at Gampel. All 11 contests in the series history have been sellouts.
In Milwaukee, Wis., Khadijah Rushdan scored 20 points and Rutgers used a huge first half to upset No. 22/21 Marquette 76-55. Chelsey Lee added 13 points as the Scarlet Knights (15-11, 8-5 BIG EAST) snapped a four-game road losing streak. Jasmine Collins scored 15 points for Marquette (20-6, 8-5 BIG EAST) which has yet to beat Rutgers in seven tries since joining the BIG EAST in 2005-06.
Rutgers' 24-1 surge buried Marquette early as the Golden Eagles missed 29-of-34 shots in their poorest offensive effort of the season. The Scarlet Knights led 33-14 at the half behind seven points each from Monique Oliver, April Sykes and Rushdan.
Marquette went 10 minutes between field goals, missed 11 shots, including six 3s and turned the ball over five times. Rutgers never let the lead slip below 14 in the second half.
In Pittsburgh, Pa., the No. 21/20 Mountaineers got revenge in the Backyard Brawl beating Pitt 90-79. Earlier this year the Panthers won at Morgantown (on Feb. 5) and snapped WVU’s 31-game home court winning streak. Senior Madina Ali scored a team-high 21 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead the way for West Virginia. The Mountaineers led 45-30 at halftime and totaled the highest total in league action this season (90 points).
Senior Taneisha Harrison led Pitt with a game-high 28 points.
Syracuse (19-7, 7-6 BIG EAST) got a game-high 26 points from sophomore Kayla Alexander and used a 19-8 late-game rally to secure a 78-67 win over St. John’s (18-8, 7-6 BIG EAST) in Queens, N.Y.
“We just kept throwing the ball inside and that is what we talked about coming into this game,” SU head coach Quentin Hillsman said. “No matter what the score was, no matter what happened we needed to keep getting the ball inside and we did a good job of sticking to that game plan.”
Alexander was 10-for-16 from the floor and a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe and helped the squad to a 44-21 edge on the boards with eight rebounds. It marked the 24th time in the past 26 games that the Orange has outrebounded the opposition as the team continues to lead the nation with a 15.2 rebounding margin.
Junior Da’Shena Stevens scored a team-high 18 points to lead the Red Storm.
Louisville (17-10, 8-5 BIG EAST) won at USF (10-17, 1-12 BIG EAST) by the score of 66-55. Junior Monique Reid scored a game-high 27 points shooting 11-of-15 from the field. USF junior Andrea Smith led the home team with 16 points.
Providence (12-13, 5-8 BIG EAST) won on the road as it beat Cincinnati (8-17, 1-12 BIG EAST) by the score of 57-43. Senior Teya Wright recorded a double-double with 14 points and 18 rebounds. Freshman Jeanise Randolph led the Bearcats with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Villanova (10-16, 2-11 BIG EAST) earned its second straight win with a 62-54 victory at Seton Hall (8-18, 1-12 BIG EAST). Lindsey Kimmel scored a team-best 18 points to lead the Wildcats, who canned 10 3-pointers as a team. Seton Hall had 17 points from Jasmine Crew.
Material from interviews, the Associated Press wire service as well as league and team sources was used in this report.