As the regular-season hits its final week, ten teams kicked things off on Tuesday night as five conference games were on the schedule.
After returning to No. 1/1 in both national polls this week, Connecticut (27-1, 14-0 BIG EAST) beat Seton Hall (8-19, 1-13 BIG EAST) by the score of 80-59 at the XL Center. Senior Maya Moore scored a game-high 20 points and had six rebounds, five steals and three blocks in 31 minutes. Freshman Bria Hartley added 17 points.
Seton Hall junior Jasmine Crew had 11 points, while freshman Jazzmine Johnson totaled 14. Seton Hall tied a school record with 11 made 3-pointers, but the Huskies were 20-of-24 from the free throw line. Seton Hall previously hit 11 three-pointers on Feb. 13, 2008 against Syracuse. The Pirates shot 38.3 percent overall and 50.0 percent from distance, while the Huskies checked in at 42.9 percent overall and 30.0 percent from the arc.
“You almost take for granted how hard it is to have that will to win every single night,” Moore said. “The will to win of my teammates has always been amazing and if you have a group of people that no matter what comes down to find a way to win, you will.”
“We knew it was an unacceptable (first) half,” Moore said. “Tonight shows we’re human. We’re not where we want to be yet, but we can take some good from it because it keeps us hungry, gives us a wake-up call right before the end of the season.”
In Morgantown, W.Va., Notre Dame junior Natalie Novosel scored 22 points and the No. 8/7 Irish overcame 30 turnovers to beat the No. 19/18 Mountaineers 72-60. The Irish (23-5, 12-2 BIG EAST) made 58 percent of its field goals to make those turnovers seem less painful.
Twenty-two of Notre Dame’s 30 baskets came on layups and the nation’s sixth-best offense more than handled the fifth-best scoring defense.
“We worked them a lot on the back doors and executed very well,” Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said. “We had some great shots and shot the ball extremely well, but when you’re getting layups, I think it’s a little easier to shoot well.”
Senior Devereaux Peters added 16 points and Diggins and senior Becca Bruszewski each scored 10 for the Irish (23-5, 12-2 BIG EAST).
Senior Sarah Miles scored 16 points and senior Madina Ali added 12 for West Virginia (21-7, 7-7 BIG EAST). The Mountaineers trailed by double digits for most of the second half and lost for the fourth time in five games.
Notre Dame shot 65 percent (15-of-23) from the floor in the first half and beat West Virginia for the 18th time in 20 all-time meetings. The Irish also have secured a bye to the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Championship, joining UConn and DePaul.
Back East in the Ocean State, senior Paige Fiedorowicz had 20 points and 12 rebounds, senior Angel Robinson added 15 points and No. 24/22 Marquette closed with a 16-2 run to beat Providence 62-50.
Senior Jasmine Collins scored 11 points to help Marquette (21-6, 9-5 BIG EAST) overcome 22 turnovers.
Junior Miranda Tate had 17 points and senior Mi-Khida Hankins added 12 for Providence (12-14, 5-9 BIG EAST). Tate and Hankins combined to shoot 13-of-29 from the field and the rest of the team was 9-of-30 (30 percent).
Teya Wright’s layup gave the Friars their last lead, 48-46 with 6:24 to go. Providence missed its last eight field goals the rest of the way.
St. John’s (19-8, 8-6 BIG EAST) put a stop to Villanova’s recent winning streak after a 57-46 victory at The Pavilion. Four Red Storm players scored in double figures for the seventh time this season, led by senior Centhya “Coco” Hart and junior Da’Shena Stevens with 15 points each.
Sophomore Nadirah McKenith put 12 points on the board, shooting a perfect 8-of-8 from the foul line and adding five assists. Classmate Shenneika Smith tallied her third double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
For Villanova, sophomore Laura Sweeney led with 10 points. The Wildcats (10-17, 2-12 BIG EAST) were 7-of-27 from 3-point range.
Syracuse (20-7, 8-6 BIG EAST) had an impressive come-from-behind win at Cincinnati (8-18, 1-13 BIG EAST) as it edged the Bearcats 55-53 in Ohio. The Orange trailed by 17 at one point, but rallied to win and earn its second consecutive 20-win season.
Sophomore center Kayla Alexander, the reigning BIG EAST Player of the Week, led the Orange offensively notching 18 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore guard Carmen Tyson-Thomas was second on the team with 14 points – including 10 in the first half – and four rebounds. Junior guard Iasia Hemingway rounded out the double-digit scorers, notching her fifth SU double-double with 10 points and a team-best 11 rebounds.
Cincinnati outscored Syracuse, 20-5, through the first 10 minutes of the contest, holding the Orange without a field goal until the 8:15 minute mark. Cincinnati led 32-24 at halftime.
A layup by Alexander at the 16:35 minute mark gave the Orange its first lead of the contest, 35-33.
Cincinnati pulled within one (42-41) at the 11:06 mark of the second half, but that was as close as they would come as the teams traded baskets through the remainder of regulation with Syracuse maintaining at least a two point buffer to secure the win.
Cincinnati senior Shareese Ulis scored a game-high 20 points. Senior Ulis posted a standout effort in hitting on 6-of-9 shots from the floor, including 4-of-6 from three-point range in playing the full 40 minutes. In two career games against Syracuse, she has scored 45 points.
Material from interviews, the Associated Press wire service as well as league and team sources was used in this report.