Six conference teams were in action on Wednesday night with three conference games on the schedule. No. 2/2 Connecticut beat West Virginia 79-60 at home, No. 3/3 Notre Dame topped Seton Hall 74-36 and St. John’s knocked off Providence 57-41.
Bria Hartley scored 18 points and No. 2/2 Connecticut (12-1, 2-0 BIG EAST) extended its NCAA-record home winning streak to 93 games with a 79-60 win over West Virginia (10-4, 1-1 BIG EAST) at the XL Center.
Five players scored in double figures for the Huskies, who broke open a close game in the second half.
Kelly Faris had 14 points, five rebounds, five assists and six steals. Tiffany Hayes had 13 points, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis added 12 and Caroline Doty chipped in 11.
Asya Bussie had 17 of her 19 points in the second half and Christal Caldwell added 17 points to lead West Virginia.
It was the 44th consecutive BIG EAST win for UConn and its 24th consecutive win in conference home openers.
UConn led just 34-27 at halftime, but opened the second half on a 9-1 run, holding the Mountaineers without a field goal for the first 6 1/2 minutes after intermission.
The Mountaineers held UConn to 37 percent shooting in the first half, but made just 2 of their 11 attempts from beyond the arc and had 18 of their 29 turnovers before halftime.
“Our guards on the offensive end stood and held the ball too much,” said West Virginia coach Mike Carey. “We weren’t moving the ball, dribbled it too much, didn’t pass. Our spacing was not good.”
In New Jersey, Skylar Diggins and Kayla McBride each scored 14 points and as No. 3/3 Notre Dame (14-1, 2-0 BIG EAST) cruised to a 74-36 win over Seton Hall (7-9, 0-2 BIG EAST) for its 11th straight victory.
“We kept our focus, for this has been a tough place for us to play in year’s past,” ND head coach Muffett McGraw said. “I thought we didn’t look ahead to this weekend. We did some pretty good things defensively especially with the starters.”
The Irish will host UConn on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET in a nationally televised game on CBS. Notre Dame eliminated the Huskies in the Final Four last season and was picked in the preseason coaches’ poll to win the Big East for the first time since 2001.
Notre Dame has been sizzling on offense and leads the nation in scoring. The Irish came in averaging over 100 points in their previous four games, including a 128-42 thrashing of Mercer on Dec. 30.
Jasmine Crew provided the offense for the Pirates, finishing with 17 points.
St. John’s (9-6, 1-1 BIG EAST) beat Providence (8-7, 0-2 BIG EAST) 57-41 in the third game of the night. Red Storm junior guard Shenneika Smith became the 18th 1,000-point scorer for St. John’s and had a team-best 18 points to go along with seven rebounds.
Smith hit the milestone with 1:53 left in the game, hitting the first of two made free throws which gave the Red Storm a 52-40 lead over the Friars. The Brooklyn, N.Y., native finished the game with 1,003 career points.
PC trailed by three points (41-38) with 7:20 remaining in the game, but St. John’s closed out the evening with a 16-3 run. Senior Rachel Barnes scored a team-best 15 points for the Friars, including 12 in the second half.
Senior Da’Shena Stevens was just shy of her first double-double of the season with nine points and nine rebounds. Junior point guard Nadirah McKenith also added nine points, with five assists and five rebounds.
“We thought it was a tough game for us. At times, we didn’t play our best, but that’s a credit to Providence. They really were physical and took us out of what we wanted to do,” remarked head coach Kim Barnes Arico. “We came together and made big plays down the stretch. Shenneika [Smith] really stepped up and had a terrific night. She could have gone both ways. She had a tough couple of days here and she really stepped up and played great for us. It was a great sign for our team to not play exceptionally well and be taken out of our game and still come away with the victory. I was happy with that, but we’ve got to continue to improve.”
BIG EAST women’s basketball returns to action on Saturday, Jan. 7 with seven games and 14 teams on the court. Five of the seven games will be televised, including a nationally televised tilt on CBS as No. 3/3 Notre Dame hosts No. 2/2 UConn at 4 p.m. ET.
CINCINNATI at RUTGERS 2:00 p.m. BETV
DE PAUL at PROVIDENCE 2:00 p.m.
SYRACUSE at PITTSBURGH 2:00 p.m. Comcast Pittsburgh
CONNECTICUT at NOTRE DAME 4:00 p.m. CBS
GEORGETOWN at USF (BMSC) 7:00 p.m. BHSN
VILLANOVA at WEST VIRGINIA 7:00 p.m. WV PBS
SETON HALL at MARQUETTE 8:00 p.m.
Material from interviews, school websites, the Associated Press wire service as well as league and team sources was used in this report.