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UConn drops OSU for 88th straight win

Monday, December 20, 2010


Photo by: Henny Ray Abrams



Connecticut's Tiffany Hayes, right, shoots against Ohio State's Jantel Lavender in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Maggie Dixon Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2010. Connecticut won its 88th game in a row, 81-50.

By Jim Massie

The Columbus Dispatch


The national spotlight that the Ohio State women’s basketball team craved turned into a trip to the sun on Sunday in Madison Square Garden.

The Connecticut Huskies, the best team in the sport, fairly fried the aspirations of the Buckeyes with an 81-50 drubbing in the nightcap of the Maggie Dixon Classic.

Pick any part of the game and the No. 1 Huskies dominated the No. 11 Buckeyes into somber silence in the aftermath. In the process, Ohio State became the answer to the down-the-road trivia question: Which team did Connecticut defeat to tie the UCLA men’s streak of 88 consecutive games?

The Buckeyes (8-2) had hoped for better but didn’t have the guns to match All-American Maya Moore, Tiffany Hayes and the rest of the Huskies (10-0). They also didn’t have the edge.

“They played a lot harder than we did,” Ohio State coach Jim Foster said. “We’ve got to run harder. We’ve got to get down the floor and have a sense of urgency.”

Foster was flanked in the postgame interview room by his two stars — point guard Samantha Prahalis and center Jantel Lavender.

“Sammy has to put a body on people and box them out,” he said. “Jantel [Lavender] has to learn that she’s going to get hit. Our wings have to run more. It’s a pretty basic and easy thing. It’s not like we have to re-invent the wheel.”

The Buckeyes opened the game with back-to-back 3-pointers from Brittany Johnson to take a 6-0 lead. Hayes answered with nine consecutive points, and a downhill spiral began.

Connecticut contested every pass, every rebound and every possession to slowly and steadily pull away. Hayes finished with 26 points. Moore had 22 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals.

By contrast, Lavender finished with 14 points, largely because of the physical defense played by beefy UConn freshman center Stefanie Dolson. Prahalis was 2 for 17 from the floor with seven points, four assists and six turnovers.

“They’re very physical,” Foster said. “They’re willing to be physical. They’re willing to get on the floor. They’re willing to take charges. They’re going to hit you. If you don’t want to partake in that kind of a game, you’re not going to be successful.”

The Huskies built a 40-26 lead at the half and never let up. When Lavender scored two quick baskets after the break, Moore replied with a field goal and three-point play. The lead was 53-32 with 15:34 remaining and had stretched to 77-43 with 4:50 left.

“They’re just active [defensively],” Prahalis said. “That’s probably the big thing. They deny the wings pretty hard. They get a hand on the ball a lot. When they do something, they do it hard.”

After Foster complimented Moore’s overall game, he focused on her personality.

“It’s her intensity,” he said. “It’s her mindset. It’s her willingness to challenge her teammates to be accountable. That’s what the great players do. She’s learned to push herself and she’s not satisfied.”

He noted a shot that Moore blocked in the second half with her team leading by 30 points.

“You can talk the game, but very few back that up,” Foster said. “Right now, we’re pretty good at talking. But we certainly did not step up and meet the challenge of their energy.”