for this game

No. 1 UConn routs Cincy 83-51 in Elliott's return

Jan 8, 2010 - 3:56 AM By PAT EATON-ROBB Associated Press Writer

STORRS, Conn.(AP) -- Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma found himself rooting a little for the other team on Thursday.

He didn't want Cincinnati to beat his top-ranked Huskies, but he wanted the Bearcats to play well for his protege, first-year coach Jamelle Elliott, a former star player and 12-year assistant coach at UConn.

Maya Moore scored 25 points to lead Connecticut to an 83-51 win, but Cincinnati impressed Auriemma by making a run at his team in the second half.

"I told her, 'They are better than some of the teams I've seen already," said Auriemma. "They stay with some of their stuff. ... I thought they played really well for the most part."

Tina Charles added 17 points and had six of the Huskies' season-high 11 blocked shots as UConn (14-0, 3-0 Big East) extended its winning streak to 53 games.

Charles passed Svetlana Abrosimova for seventh place on the school's all-time scoring list, and Moore moved into ninth place, passing Ann Strother.

Shareese Ulis had 19 points and seven steals to lead Cincinnati (7-7, 0-2), which was able to cut a 29 point UConn lead to 16 before the Huskies put the game away.

Connecticut played most of the game without point guard Tiffany Hayes, who went down 2 1/2 minutes in with a sprained left ankle.

Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell was among those watching in the stands as the Bearcats stayed close for the first 6 minutes. They trailed just 16-10 before UConn went on a 13-2 run. The Huskies later used a 19-4 run to turn a 23-12 lead into a 42-16 advantage, and went into halftime up 52-26.

Auriemma went to his reserves much earlier than usual, upset when the starters made five turnovers in the first 4 1/2 minutes of the second half. Little-used Heather Buck and Jacquie Fernandes both played over 10 minutes.

Most of the starters returned after the Bearcats cut the lead to 62-46 with just over 8 minutes left.

"Yesterday, I actually told him my goal was for him to get so upset with his kids that he would have to pull them out," Elliott said. "Fortunately, my prayers were answered. I was pleased with how we played defense the entire 20 minutes of that second half."

Hayes, averaging over 11 points and four rebounds per game for the top-ranked Huskies, was injured when she and Cincinnati guard Ulis both crashed to the floor as Ulis drove to the basket.

Hayes, who was called for a foul on the play, did not put any weight on the leg as she was taken off the court, but later limped to the training room. She returned to the bench later in the half but did not play.

Auriemma said he's not sure if she'll be able to go Saturday when the Huskies host No. 7 North Carolina.

"I don't want to think about playing Saturday without her," he said.

Elliott, who finished her playing career in 1996 with 1,387 points and 1,054 rebounds, received a standing ovation from the UConn crown the moment she walked on the court and again as she was introduced.

She helped lead UConn to its first national championship in 1995 and was part of five other titles in her 12 years as an assistant to Geno Auriemma.

She was hired in May to replace J. Kelley Hall as Cincinnati coach, and was asked if coaching against Auriemma helped complete her transition to head coach.

"I do not believe my education as a coach will be complete until I defeat Coach Auriemma," she said.

UConn's winning streak is the third longest in NCAA women's history, behind the school's own record of 70 from 2001-03 and Louisiana Tech's 54 from 1980-82.

The Huskies have now won 126 consecutive games over non-ranked opponents.