Connecticut and USF were winners on Wednesday night as there were just two games on the schedule. No. 3/3 UConn (18-2, 7-1 BIG EAST) won at Syracuse (13-8, 2-5 BIG EAST) 95-54, while USF (12-9, 4-3 BIG EAST) beat Seton Hall (7-14, 0-7 BIG EAST) at home 57-45.
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Tiffany Hayes scored a career-high 35 points to lead UConn. The senior shot 11-of-15 from the field and 6-of-8 from 3-point range. She also was a perfect 7-of-7 from the free throw line and grabbed seven rebounds.
“Once you knock down a couple of shots, you get the feeling like every one of them is going to go in,” Hayes said. “When you’re open, you keep shooting.”
“She’s really in a good place right now—physically, mentally,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “Tonight was probably a perfect example of all the things Tiffany can do on any given night. She used to have nights like this when she was a freshman, but since then she’s struggled a little bit to find herself, find her game. Tonight was kind of, `Here I am, this is what I do. I’m a senior.’
The Huskies shot 12 of 25 from beyond the arc, shot two more free throws than the Orange, and outrebounded them 45-34. Syracuse leads the nation in rebounding and free throws.
If only the Orange could have kept doing what they did in the first half, when Iasia Hemingway dominated the lane, scoring 12 of her 15 points in the game as Syracuse refused to wilt.
Trailing 40-33 at the break, the Orange watched the Huskies start the second half with a 25-5 surge. Syracuse scored just 21 points in the period, shot 24.2 percent (8 of 22), and finished the game 19 of 62 (30.6 percent).
“We came out and knew they were going to make a run and they did,” Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman said. “We just didn’t answer. We just can’t come out in the second half and not score.”
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis had 19 points and eight rebounds and Bria Hartley had 18 points for Connecticut.
It was “Pack the House” night at the Carrier Dome with tickets set at $2 apiece, and among the school-record 4,357 fans was local star Breanna Stewart, the top prospect in the nation. The 6-foot-4 senior at Cicero-North Syracuse High School announced last February that she was headed to UConn, and she wanted a firsthand look at her future team.
Junior guard Caroline Doty, who left the DePaul game after playing just 2 minutes because her troublesome left knee swelled, did not play against Syracuse because of a minor bone bruise in the knee.
In Tampa, Fla., the Bulls overcame a five-point halftime deficit to beat the Pirates at home. Jasmine Wynne scored 19 points to lead USF, while Kaneisha Saunders added 13 points and six assists.
With the win, the Bulls tied their win total from last season (12) and surpassed their league win total (4). USF shot 47.8 percent from the field in the second half and went 14-of-16 from the free throw line.
Seton Hall’s Brittany Morris led the offense with nine points.
BIG EAST teams return to action on Saturday with seven games on the schedule. The league’s Game of the Week between No. 2/2 Notre Dame and St. John’s can been seen live online for free at www.bigeast.tv or by clicking this link.
Sat. 28 NOTRE DAME at ST. JOHN’S Noon BETV
USF at CONNECTICUT (XL) 1:00 p.m. CPTV
VILLANOVA at LOUISVILLE 2:00 p.m.
PITTSBURGH at PROVIDENCE 2:00 p.m.
DE PAUL at SETON HALL 2:00 p.m.
CINCINNATI at SYRACUSE 4:00 p.m.
MARQUETTE at WEST VIRGINIA 7:00 p.m. WV PBS
CPTV – Connecticut Public Television; WV PBS – West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Material from interviews, school websites, the Associated Press wire service as well as league and team sources was used in this report.