Here’s a look back at Tuesday’s win over No. 9 West Virginia in the Big East tournament final:
TURNING POINT – The Huskies led 33-28 with 15:31 left in the game. They were in the midst of a scoreless spell that would reach 5:14 and Maya Moore and Tina Charles were a combined 3-of-22 shooting.
But powered by another relentless defensive surge, UConn went on a 27-2 run to blow the game open. The Mountaineers finished the game 2-of-20 shooting, missing 13 straight shots at one point, and were scoreless for 11:23.
“I think we played very, very good defense, and they played horribly on offense,’’ UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “That’s usually how those things work. Just because you’re a good defensive team that’s not going to be enough. So we had a little help from them and they had a little help from us. When we get going like that defensively, we’re hard to play against.’’
UNSUNG HERO – Kalana Greene. She has played in the shadow of Moore and Charles all season. Yet, when the Huskies needed her she delivered a performance that earned her tournament Most Outstanding Player honors. Greene finished with 15 points, seven rebounds, and three assists in a season-high 35 minutes.
Greene had six points, four rebounds (two offensive) and three assists during the UConn’s decisive run.
“I thought I wasn’t going to make the (all-tournament) team,’’ Greene said. “It feels good to earn it, to have to fight for it. My teammates had a lot of confidence in me. I feed off of them a lot, every day. We were the most outstanding team in the tournament and I owe this to my
BEST ‘X’ AND/OR ‘O’ – The offense was not functioning at a high level against the Mountaineers, which meant the Huskies again had to turn to their defense. They allowed just 32 points, which was the fewest in a Big East final and tied the fewest allowed in any tournament game.
West Virginia shot 24.1 percent (19.2 in the second half). And starting point guard Sarah Miles was limited to two points on 1-of-15 shooting in 39 minutes.
“You’re not going to have great offensive nights every night and people think we’re just a pretty finesse team and we don’t like to be physical,’’ Greene said. “But we’re a team that can get down to the nitty-gritty. Get tips on defense and lock teams down and get rebounds when we need to.’’
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS – The Huskies have won three straight Big East championships (16 overall). This time, though, they had to beat two Top 10 teams in as many games to win the title. “I don’t know how many conferences you have to beat two teams in the Top 10 to win your tournament,’’ Auriemma said. “So I think we’ve done something that’s pretty amazing.’’ … Auriemma praised the play of reserves Lorin Dixon and Kelly Faris. Faris had four points and five rebounds in 26 minutes. Dixon had one assist in 12 minutes, but just like Faris she was a pest defensively. “Lorin and Kelly were really good,’’ Auriemma said. “People don’t always see this, but you put Kelly Faris on a really good player, and that player’s not going to get much. And I think Lorin wore out… The kid Miles didn’t know what to do. It was really hard for her to get stuff done. She was just able to take her and make her have to work so hard to get what she needed that I think it kind of disrupted their whole offense because she wasn’t part of their offense any more.’’ … The Huskies have won 72 straight games, as in every game that Caroline Doty, Tiffany Hayes and Heather Buck have been members of the team. “It’s pretty nice,’’ Hayes said. “Me, Caroline and Heather Buck, we always talk about it saying, `We’re still undefeated. We’re 70-so and oh.’ A lot of people don’t get to experience that. So it is a good feeling.’’
LOOKING AHEAD – The Huskies will not play until either March 20 or 21 depending on where they are sent for the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. Their likely resting spots will either Pittsburgh or Norfolk, Va.
UConn will not practice until Saturday, with the coaching staff out recruiting.
BY THE NUMBERS
4 – Made 3-pointers by Moore in her last 25 attempts
9.5 – Average rebounds for Greene in the final two games of the tournament
15.0 – Average points for Greene in the final two games of the tournament
Remember, I’ll be chatting tomorrow from noon to 1 p.m. Be there…