Geno Auriemma wasn’t a huge fan of having to play Rutgers two
days before a showdown with top-ranked Baylor.
He knows that it will help his team in the end as the setup is
similar to what his third-ranked Huskies will see in the NCAA
”The Big East thinks we’re Superman. We can play at Rutgers
Saturday, then have to play Baylor on Monday because we’re better
than everyone else, we can handle that,” Auriemma said. ”That’s
what happens in the NCAA tournament. You play a tough game on a
Saturday or Sunday and then play another one two days later.
They’ve helped us over the years and they’ll help us this
Morgan Tuck scored 15 points and Stefanie Dolson added 14 to
help Connecticut beat Rutgers 65-45 on Saturday, denying coach C.
Vivian Stringer of her 900th victory.
Stringer won No. 899 last Saturday against Cincinnati and has
lost her first two attempts to become the fourth women’s basketball
coach to reach the milestone. The Hall of Fame coach was looking to
join Pat Summitt, Jody Conradt and Sylvia Hatchell, who reached the
mark last week.
”I’ll be glad to get it over with,” Stringer said. ”I can’t
begin to share with you the stress that it is – not in a negative
way. We’re trying to fight hard to see how we can live and survive
in the Big East to do that. I haven’t even talked to the team about
the pressure of that. Even when my sister talks to me I don’t want
to talk about it.”
Stringer’s next try will be Tuesday at No. 23 Syracuse.
”I appreciate the historical perspective. I do know its
special,” Stringer said. ”Unfortunately it’s coming at a time
when we have so many young people and we’re struggling. I look at
this and I do feel encouraged. Nine hundred will come one of these
UConn (24-1, 11-1) has its own big game on Monday night with the
showdown against No. 1 Baylor.
It wasn’t long ago that Rutgers (14-10, 5-6) was a thorn in the
side of Connecticut, going 5-4 against the Huskies from 2005-08.
That’s not the case anymore as the Huskies have won the past 10
The Scarlet Knights knocked off the Huskies to win the 2007 Big
East tournament. A 73-71 victory win the next season was Rutgers’
last against UConn.
For 10 minutes the Scarlet Knights took it right at the Huskies.
Rutgers led 14-4 nearly 5 1/2 minutes in as Auriemma pulled four of
his five starters, unhappy with their play as it looked as if the
Huskies were already looking ahead to the showdown with Baylor.
”We had a game plan going in and one of the things that we
wanted to make sure of we didn’t do,” Auriemma said. ”I thought
that all we did right those first four minutes was foul. I don’t
think we accomplished anything else, didn’t play offense or
The Huskies trailed 18-12 midway through the first half before
Moriah Jefferson sparked them. She had two steals that ended up in
layups – the second resulting in a three-point play that gave UConn
a 22-18 advantage.
Rutgers got within 26-25 before UConn scored seven of the final
nine points of the half to lead 33-27.
UConn picked right up in the second half scoring the first seven
points to take a 40-27 lead and put the game away. Rutgers could
only get within nine the rest of the way.
Jefferson and Tuck gave the Huskies a lift, which is something
Auriemma knows will help them in the future being able to turn to
”This goes a long way for both Moriah and Morgan going forward
knowing they can come in a game like this and contribute what they
contributed,” Auriemma said. ”You can go to the Final Four with
six players, probably go with just five if you’re lucky. If you can
change up the game with a couple people coming off the bench,
that’s what good teams do. We want to be a good team.”
Starting guard Bria Hartley played the first four minutes before
getting pulled. She never got back in the game.
”She wasn’t healthy at practice, wasn’t great at shoot
around,” Auriemma said. ”She gave it a shot and it didn’t work
Shakena Richardson scored 10 points to lead the Scarlet
Rutgers, which is in danger of seeing its 10-year streak of NCAA
tournament appearances end, had put together two strong halves. The
Scarlet Knights rallied from an 18-point second half deficit
against DePaul on Tuesday before falling 60-57, and stuck with the
No. 3 team in the country for 20 minutes.
The Scarlet Knights just couldn’t sustain it. Rutgers was
missing senior forward Chelsey Lee, who is sidelined indefinitely
with a right knee injury. She missed last season with a shoulder
Rutgers, which has nine underclassmen on the roster, is having a
rare down year, and Stringer’s $1 million salary has come under
scrutiny. She made comments last week to a group of reporters
describing those critical of her as ”crazies” and said they need
to ”just back off”
Athletic director Tim Pernetti talked to a group of reporters at
the half and said that he called her after her remarks and opted to
keep the details of the conversation private from the media.
Stringer has one more year on her contract after this
Rutgers honored former star Sue Wicks before the game. Wicks,
who starred for the Scarlet Knights from 1984-88 before going on to
play for the New York Liberty in the WNBA, will be inducted into
the women’s basketball Hall of Fame in June. Wicks’ jersey is
retired in the rafters and a banner commemorating her upcoming
induction into the Hall of Fame hung next to it.
This was also the Play4Kay game with UConn and Rutgers honoring
former North Carolina State coach Kay Yow, who passed away in 2009
after a long battle with cancer. The Scarlet Knights wore pink
uniforms while the Huskies wore pink socks and had the color
trimmed on their shorts.
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