NCAA women hoops: No. 1 UConn routs Temple, 90-36
By HANK KURZ Jr.
AP Sports Writer
NORFOLK, Va. — Connecticut was so good — nearly perfect — in the first half against Temple on Tuesday night that even one of their superstars, Maya Moore, was surprised.
“It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime kind of a half,” Moore said.
The Huskies shot nearly 78 percent, held Temple to five field goals and 12 points and took a 43-point lead into the locker room. They coasted to a 90-36 victory in the second round of the NCAA women’s tournament, stretching their winning streak to 74 games.
“You go in wanting to feel like you’re going to hit every shot, but you don’t really think every single shot is going to go in,” Moore said after making all six of her shots, including three 3-pointers. “At a point there, we thought every shot was going to go in.”
To the Owls, it seemed like every shot did.
“It was just, ’Wow,”’ said Qwedia Wallace, who led Temple with 12 points.
“They are the No. 1 team in the nation for a reason,” added Marli Bennett.
On a night that started with UConn coach Geno Auriemma twice hugging former assistant Tonya Cardoza, in her second season as the Owls coach, perfection quickly replaced affection.
Moore hit 3-pointers on the Huskies’ first two possessions, they ran off 20 points in a row in 6 minutes after Temple closed within 13-5 and finished the half on a 20-1 burst.
After that, the Huskies starters got to watch the reserves get plenty of time.
“There’s not much I can add to what you saw out there,” Auriemma said. “It was pretty incredible, just a really special performance by these kids in the first half.”
And one that Moore said made them all feel like their work was paying off as they add to their record winning streak in NCAA Division I women’s basketball and chase that second perfect season in a row. Succeeding would also yield the Huskies seventh national title.
“What you guys were seeing was 6 a.m. on September first, 2009, getting up, workouts, in the gym, individuals, constantly doing drills, day after day, doing them again and again until you it just right,” she said, “and then to go out in a game in March and to be able to really enjoy all the things you’ve been working on since that first day.”
Moore scored 19 points in 16 minutes, Kelly Faris added 13, Tina Charles 12 and Tiffany Hayes 11 for the Huskies, who got scoring from 10 players and shot 62 percent overall.
The victory on Auriemma’s 54th birthday was tempered somewhat because the Huskies best half in a long time came against Cardoza’s team. She was a UConn assistant for 14 years.
But Cardoza and the eighth-seeded Owls (25-9) never had a chance.
“Just about everything they tried to do worked for them,” she said.
While Connecticut was making 21 of 27 shots in the half with seven 3-pointers, the Owls treated the ball like a hot potato in the face of the Huskies’ unrelenting defense. Many of their shots seemed more like heaves, as if the Huskies were all several feet taller.
They weren’t, but sure played like they were. And when Auriemma called off the onslaught and called his starter to the bench 5 minutes into the second half, the reserves kept going.
“They could be their own team and beat a lot of teams,” Cardoza said.
Their 12 points tied for the eighth-lowest total in tournament history, and followed a second half against Southern University in the opening round in which the Huskies limited the Jaguars to a record low-tying 10 points. Southern missed 26 of its 30 shots in that half.
More impressively, Connecticut played much of both halves with reserves.
Cardoza and Auriemma shared an embrace before the game, and again after player introductions, but the Huskies wasted no time showing the Owls any hopes they had were lost.