Tuesday, February 3, 2009

UConn-Rutgers Live Blog

Especially for those of you unable to watch the game, welcome to our third Live Blog in three days, as the UConn women look to continue their undefeated season against their struggling old friends from Rutgers. Can Rutgers put the same kind of scare into UConn that they did to Tennessee a few weeks ago? And if they do, can they sustain it to the end? Not likely on either front.


UConn 75-56, Final: Maya Moore with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Maybe Smokey Swanier was right.

UConn 70-52, 2:28: Kalana Greene with an amazing one-handed putback to cap a season-high 17-point night. What a difference having a healthy, active Greene will be come tournament time.

UConn 66-52, 3:40: The last gasp from Rutgers, who have gone to the '55' press and gotten results. Lorin Dixon is really struggling.

UConn 60-44, 7:17: The Charles cameo is over. Not very productive. Lorin Dixon seeing some action as the game teeters on the verge of garbage time.

10:08: Charles back in.

UConn 57-37, 10:08: The Rutgers offense simply can't compete right now and Maya Moore is heating up for UConn. Moore has seven straight points to put this game on ice with 10 minutes left. It's a 31-12 UConn run since the final two minutes of the first half.

UConn 50-35, 12:26: Tina Charles remains on the bench. She struggled against North Carolina two weeks ago and the funk is continuing.

UConn 48-32, 15:36: Rutgers keeps trying to throw over top of the defense to a cutter along the baseline and Gardler is sitting in the lane waiting for it. That's at least three steals on the same play. This one might be over.

UConn 41-30, 17:37: UConn is forcing turnovers and converting at the other end to break it open. As a lefthander, I am loving watching Tiffany Hayes shoot the three. Great stroke.

UConn 34-28, 20:00: Gardler starts the second half. That's a not-so-veiled shot at Tina Charles.


UConn 34-28, Halftime: UConn ends the half with an 8-3 run. Gardler gave the Huskies about five very active minutes down the stretch, and Geno takes a veiled shot at Tina Charles in praising Gardler's effort in the quickie halftime interview. Charles saw a lot of the bench in the first half.

UConn 26-22, 3:00: Not sure why Rutgers insists on passing the ball to Meghan Gardler each time down the floor, but the Huskies are not complaining.

UConn 24-22, 3:51: The Huskies have gone better than seven minutes with just four points as the pace has really deadened and both teams tightening up their half-court defense. With a little better shot selection by April Sykes, Rutgers might have the lead right now.

UConn 22-20, 6:28: Tiffany Hayes draws another charge and Epiphany Prince has two fouls. Still have a hard time seeing somebody other than Diana Taurasi wearing No. 3. Rutgers keeping this one close so far in a deliberately-played gane.

UConn 22-17, 8:17: We have a Kia Vaughn sighting. Six straight points to close the gap. UConn timeout.

UConn 20-11, 11:02: Renee Montgomery comes alive, hitting a jumper and a three for a personal five-point run. C. Viv takes a timeout.

UConn 15-11, 13:01: Geno takes Moore out, mainly it appears to settle her down. Moore hit a three for a 15-8 lead, but Auriemma gave her the "slow down" motion as she came out of the game with a mask of frustration on her face. 11:58: She's back in. Mental re-set.

UConn 12-8, 15:32: In the summer of 2007, while covering the Sox for a series in Atlanta, I had lunch with Cornell Swanier, Ketia's father. Among the topics was an incoming freshman from the area, Maya Moore. "She's going to make UConn fans forget Diana Taurasi," Swanier told me. I think of that as I watch Moore dominate game after game. She has four points early here tonight.

UConn 10-8, 16:25: End-to-end start to this one, with Kalana Greene very active for the Huskies, a welcome sight after the knee injury a year ago. Tiffany Hayes with a nice three early in her first career start.

8:00 p.m.: I covered my first UConn-Rutgers game 10 years ago last month, when Svetlana Abrosimova hit a runner in the final minute to give UConn a one-point win at the bloodthirsty RAC. It was right after Boston College had blitzed the Huskies, who were without freshman point guard Sue Bird, among others. I distinctly remember Geno Auriemma, standing outside the locker room, airing out the UConn media for what he perceived a major overreaction to that loss in what had been a rough January. No such agita this season.

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