for this game

No. 1 UConn rolls to 59th straight victory

Jan 27, 2010 - 3:07 AM By DOUG FEINBERG AP Basketball Writer

HARTFORD, Conn.(AP) -- Rutgers set the standard for defense in the Big East for years. Connecticut has taken over that mantle.

Maya Moore had 19 points and 10 rebounds to help top-ranked Connecticut win its 59th straight game with a 73-36 victory over Rutgers on Tuesday night.

"I think how good we are defensively surprises me a little bit," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said.

The Huskies have held four straight conference opponents to under 20-points in the first half en route to easy victories. They take great pride in their defense.

"They scored 36 and right now we're like wow we could have held them less to that," said Kalana Greene who added 17 points for UConn, which has won every game during its streak by at least double digits.

"It's how competitive we are. We get really upset when people score," Greene said. We'll go back to practice and hope to hold the next team under 36."

Even Rutgers, which has been the only real nuisance for UConn in the conference over the last few years, was no match. The Scarlet Knights were the last team to beat Connecticut during the regular season, topping the Huskies in New Jersey by two in 2008.

On Tuesday, they could only stay close for 8 minutes before UConn (20-0, 7-0 Big East) used a 20-2 run to put the game away.

"Anytime you beat them it's a good win," Auriemma said. "You know how you're going to have to play to win. When it was Cappie (Pondexter), Matee (Ajavon), Kia Vaughn and that crew they had a lot more firepower then. Right now I think they're trying to find their identity and who they are."

Chelsey Lee scored 10 points to lead Rutgers (12-8, 4-2). The 36 points matched the second fewest in school history. The Scarlet Knights had 36 against Duke in 1996 and only 32 against William Patterson in 1975.

UConn, which stands only 11 wins short of the NCAA and school record of 70 straight victories, has now beaten 129 straight unranked opponents.

This is the first time in five years that the two teams aren't playing twice during the regular season. The Big East switched the matchups before the year so that Rutgers will play Syracuse twice and UConn will face Notre Dame two times.

During that stretch the Scarlet Knights have been one of the only Big East teams to beat the Huskies. UConn has 70 straight conference wins against teams other than Rutgers, since losing to then-member Boston College on Feb. 26, 2005.

The Huskies have gone 8-4 against the Scarlet Knights during that stretch. Rutgers did all it could to frustrate UConn on Tuesday night, trailing only 10-8 nearly 8 minutes into the game. UConn missed 12 of its first 16 shots and seemed flummoxed on offense.

But the Huskies, as they have during almost every game during this incredible run, got going offensively and took over. Tina Charles started the burst with a driving layup and Moore followed with another layup. She had nine points during the spurt.

"The beginning of the game we had a lot of open shots and didn't make them," Greene said. "We're very confident in our defense."

April Sykes scored the Scarlet Knights' only basket during the 8-minute run, but that only made it 19-10. Moore answered with a 3-pointer and Rutgers would get no closer the rest of the game.

By the time the game reached the half, Connecticut led 40-15. It was the fourth straight conference game that the Huskies have held an opponent to 20 points or less in the first half. Rutgers didn't help itself, shooting just 7 for 30 from the field for their lowest offensive output of the season. Without Lee and Sykes, Rutgers made just 1 of 18 shots.

"This is the best Connecticut team in my opinion," Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer said. "They are a well-oiled machine."

Leading scorer Brittany Ray, who averaged 16.6 points coming into the game, was held to just three on 1-for-11 shooting.

"They are a great team," Stringer said. "People don't give them enough credit for their defense as well as their offense."

The game was the first in conference history to feature two Hall of Fame coaches with Stringer getting inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame this past September. Auriemma was inducted in 2006.