No. 1 UConn tops Holy Cross for 79th straight win
STORRS, Conn. (AP)—Maya Moore and the Connecticut’s five freshmen got most of the publicity for the Huskies going into this season.
But Tiffany Hayes sent a reminder Sunday that UConn has more than that.
Hayes scored 32 points and her team extended its winning streak to 79 games with a season-opening 117-37 rout of Holy Cross.
Moore added 21 points and moved into second place behind Tina Charles on the school’s career scoring list, as the Huskies tuned up for a game against No. 2 Baylor on Tuesday. The 80-point margin of victory was tied for the second largest in UConn history.
“Every time you are on the floor, you are either making good habits or you are making bad habits,” Moore said. “I think our team does a pretty good job of staying focused.”
Hayes scored all but two of her points in the first 20 minutes, breaking the school record for a half. Kerry Bascom had 29 in the second half of a game against Toledo in 1991.
Hayes also surpassed her previous career-high of 28 by intermission. She opened the game with two 3-pointers, and hit 11 of her first 13 shots in leading UConn to a 63-30 lead.
“It was just great screens by my teammates and hard cuts, and whoever it was passing me the ball being able to find me,” Hayes said.
Alex Smith had 12 points to lead Holy Cross (0-2), which shot just 27 percent from the field and was held to seven second-half points.
“I didn’t think we competed in the second half,” Holy Cross coach Bill Gibbons said. “We competed in the first half and our young guys competed, but I thought we went into a shell a little bit.”
Moore was in early foul trouble and had seven points at halftime, but it hardly mattered. Hayes scored 15 of the team’s first 27 points, and 10 straight during a 20-4 run that stretched a 36-23 lead to a 56-27 advantage.
“That’s kind of been the way Tiffany operates,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “She just kind of feeds off her own momentum.”
The Huskies shot 66 percent for the game, and 70 percent in the first half.
A driving layup and a free throw by Moore early in the second half made the score 70-32 and moved her past Bascom and Nykesha Sales on the school scoring list. She is 157 points behind Charles, who set the school mark last season.
UConn freshmen Bria Hartley finished with 18 points and sophomore Kelly Faris added 15 points and nine rebounds. Samarie Walker was the first of the UConn’s prized freshmen class to score and finished with 12 points, while fellow freshman Stefanie Dolson scored six.
Sophomore Heather Buck got her first career start at center and had two points.
It will be Buck and Dolson’s job Tuesday night to defend Baylor’s Brittney Griner, one of the top players in the nation. The Bears should also be one of the stiffest tests this season for the Huskies, who have not lost in 141 weeks, since the 2008 national semifinals.
Auriemma acknowledged the Huskies may not have an answer for the 6-foot-8 Griner, and joked that she could best Minnesota Timberwolves center Kevin Love, who scored 30 points and grabbed 30 rebounds in a game last week.
“I’m more anxious to see how our offense reacts Tuesday night,” he said. “It may be that we can’t do anything to stop her or stop them.”
There will be several streaks on the line Tuesday. UConn has been at No. 1 for 44 consecutive weeks, has won 57 consecutive regular-season home games, 137 straight against unranked opponents and 27 in a row in November.
Just before Sunday’s game, the Huskies unveiled their latest championship banner, the program’s seventh.
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